The emergence emergency: a mudskipper's response to temperatures

Tiffany J. Nay*, Connor R. Gervais, Andrew S. Hoey, Jacob L. Johansen, John F. Steffensen, Jodie L. Rummer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Temperature has a profound effect on all life and a particularly influential effect on ectotherms, such as fishes. Amphibious fishes have a variety of strategies, both physiological and/or behavioural, to cope with a broad range of thermal conditions. This study examined the relationship between prolonged (5 weeks) exposure to a range of temperatures (22, 25, 28, or 32 °C) on oxygen uptake rate and movement behaviours (i.e., thermoregulation and emergence) in a common amphibious fish, the barred mudskipper (Periophthalmus argentilneatuis). At the highest temperature examined (32 °C, approximately 5 °C above their summer average temperatures), barred mudskippers exhibited 33.7–97.7% greater oxygen uptake rates at rest (ṀO 2Rest ), emerged at a higher temperature (CT e ; i.e., a modified critical thermal maxima (CT Max ) methodology) of 41.3 ± 0.3 °C relative to those maintained at 28, 25, or 22 °C. The 32 °C-maintained fish also ceased movement activity at the highest holding temperature suggesting that prolonged submergence at elevated temperatures is physiologically and energetically stressful to the individual. Using exhaustive exercise protocols with and without air exposure to simulate a predatory chase, the time to recovery was examined for all individuals. When submerged, mudskippers required 2.5x longer recovery time to return to resting oxygen uptake from exhaustive exercise than those fully emerged in air. Oxygen uptake data revealed that air exposure did not accrue oxygen debt, thereby allowing faster return to resting oxygen consumption rates. If the option to emerge was not available, mudskippers preferentially sought more benign water temperatures (26.7 ± 2.1 °C), resembling those experienced by these fish during the Austral autumn, regardless of prolonged exposure higher or lower temperatures. These results add to our understanding of the strategies that amphibious fishes may use to mitigate extra costs associated with living in warm waters, and could be the key to understanding how such species will cope with increasing temperatures in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-72
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Thermal Biology
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


    • temperature preference
    • behaviour
    • movement
    • oxygen consumption
    • metabolism
    • emergence


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