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Research article2019Peer reviewedOpen access

Remote physiological monitoring provides unique insights on the cardiovascular performance and stress responses of freely swimming rainbow trout in aquaculture

Brijs, Jeroen; Sandblom, Erik; Axelsson, Michael; Sundell, Kristina; Sundh, Henrik; Kiessling, Anders; Berg, Charlotte; Grans, Albin


Investigating the mechanisms that fish employ to maintain homeostasis in their everyday life requires measurements of physiological and behavioural responses in the field. With multivariate bio-loggers, we continuously measured gastrointestinal blood flow (GBF), heart rate, activity and body temperature in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) swimming freely amongst similar to 5000 conspecifics in a sea cage. Our findings clearly demonstrate that while both acute aquaculture-related stress and spontaneous activity resulted in transient reductions in GBF (i.e. reductions of up to 65%), recovery from stressful handling practices subsequently involved a substantial and prolonged gastrointestinal hyperemia far beyond the level observed prior to the stressor. The gastrointestinal hyperemia may be necessary to repair the damage to the gastrointestinal tract caused by acute stress. Furthermore, heart rate responses to acute stress or voluntary activity differed depending on the individual's physiological state. Stressed fish (i.e. mean heart rates >70 beats min(-1)) exhibited a bradycardic response to acute stress or activity, whereas fish with mean heart rates <60 beats min(-1) instead demonstrated strong tachycardic responses. Remote monitoring of physiological and behavioural variables using bio-loggers can provide unique insights into 'real-life' responses of animals, which can largely differ from the responses observed in confined laboratory settings.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2019, Volume: 9, article number: 9090