Sperm performance under hypoxic conditions in the intertidal fish porichthys notatus

John L. Fitzpatrick, Paul M. Craig, Carol Bucking, Sigal Balshine, Chris M. Wood, Grant B. McClelland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Hypoxia (low oxygen) exposure generally leads to decreased reproductive capacity, exhibited by reductions in testicular mass, reproductive honnones, and sperm swimming speed. However, in many fish species, reproduction occurs either periodically or exclusively under hypoxic conditions. In this study we assessed how hypoxia influences sperm performance in the plain fin midshipman (Poriclitliys notatus Girard, 1854), a species that lives in intertidal nests that become hypoxic during low tides. We exposed sperm from the same male to normoxic or hypoxic conditions and compared sperm characteristics and oxygen consumption between treatments. Sperm exposed to hypoxic water swam faster and consumed more oxygen than sperm swimming in normoxic conditions. Spenn swimming speed was positively related with oxygen consumption. For each male, the percentage of motile spermatozoa did not differ between treatments, suggesting that the same number of sperm were active but their performance was dependent on the dissolved oxygen content in the water. We discuss the implications of our results in the context of spenn competition and fertilization success under hypoxic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-469
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian journal of zoology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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