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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Effects of variable egg incubation temperatures on the embryonic development in Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus

Jeuthe, Henrik; Brännäs, Eva; Nilsson, Jan


An evaluation of different thermal regimes during incubation of Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus L. egg was conducted with regard to embryo survival and development. The study consisted of two major parts: In experiment A, a range of commonly used thermal regimes, constant and variable ranging from 2.7 degrees C to 7 degrees C, were tested for differences in embryo survival and developmental status of newly hatched alevins. Experiment B assessed the timing of a shift from autumn (6 degrees C) to winter temperature (2.5 degrees C) and its effect on embryo survival and the occurrence of spinal deformities in newly hatched alevins. In general, incubations that were initiated at temperatures below 3 degrees C resulted in significantly higher mortality rates and spinal deformity frequencies than other treatments. Hence, Arctic charr eggs require an initial warmer period for unimpaired embryonic development. A general negative correlation was found between the duration of this warmer period (6 degrees C) and both mortality rates and frequency of spinal deformities. The total absence of the 6 degrees C period had the most detrimental effect, with deformity frequencies at least four times higher than all treatments with an initial warmer period. The upper incubation temperature threshold was not reached in the study. The highest temperature tested (7 degrees C) did not result in excess mortality or increased deformity frequency. Higher incubation temperature resulted in less developed alevins at hatching, i.e. alevins were smaller with more yolk remaining. However, measurements on alevins from incubations at variable temperatures revealed different temperature effects on growth and yolk consumption during different parts of embryonic development.


Arctic charr; salmonids; temperature tolerance; egg viability; embryogenesis; spinal deformities

Published in

Aquaculture Research
2016, Volume: 47, number: 12, pages: 3753-3764