Embryonic development and metabolic costs in Gulf killifish Fundulus grandis exposed to varying environmental salinities

Charles A. Brown, LSU Agricultural Center
Fernando Galvez, Louisiana State University
Christopher C. Green, LSU Agricultural Center


The Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis) is a euryhaline fish found in coastal marsh along the entire of Gulf of Mexico and southern Atlantic of coast of the United States. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of salinity on embryogenesis in the Gulf killifish. Four recirculation systems at salinities of 0. 4, 7, 15, and 30 g/L were maintained at a static temperature with flow-through trays, containing embryos (n = 39) placed in triplicate into each system. Throughout embryogenesis, the rate of development, ammonia and urea excretion, and heart rate were monitored. Percent hatch was recorded, and morphological parameters were measured for larvae at hatch. As salinity was increased, the rate of embryogenesis decreased. Salinity significantly affected percent hatch with an 80. 0% ± 2. 6% for 7 g/L and 39. 1 ± 4. 3, 45. 4 ± 4. 5, and 36. 3% ± 12. 0% for 0. 4, 15, and 30 g/L, respectively. Salinity and stage of development significantly affected production of ammonia and urea. As salinity increased, the dominate metabolite end product changed from urea to ammonia. However, the 15 g/L salinity treatment had the two highest levels of urea recorded. Heart rate was unaffected by salinity but increased throughout embryogenesis and remained constant once embryos reached stages where hatching has been recorded. While mean total length was not affected by salinity, embryos incubated in 30 g/L produced larvae with significantly thicker body depth at hatch. The 0. 4, 7, and 15 g/L salinity treatments all had similar mean hours to hatch. The 30 g/L treatment resulted in a significantly longer mean time to hatch and smaller body cavity area at hatch. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.