Evidence that Elevated Water Temperature Affects the Reproductive Physiology of the European Bullhead Cottus Gobio

J. Dorts, Jessica Douxfils, Robert Mandiki, S. Milla, F. Silvestre, P. Kestemont, G. Grenouillet

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Climate change is predicted to increase the average water temperature and alter the ecology and physiology of several organisms including fish species. To examine the effects of increased water temperature on freshwater fish reproduction, adult European bullhead Cottus gobio of both genders were maintained under three temperature regimes (T1: 6-10, T2: 10-14 and T3: 14-18°C) and assessed for gonad development (gonadosomatic index-GSI and gonad histology), sex steroids (testosterone-T, 17β-estradiol-E2 and 11-ketotestosterone-11-KT) and vitellogenin (alkali-labile phosphoprotein phosphorus-ALP) dynamics in December, January, February and March. The results indicate that a 8°C rise in water temperature (T3) deeply disrupted the gonadal maturation in both genders. This observation was associated with the absence of GSI peak from January to March, and low levels of plasma sex steroids compared with T1-exposed fish. Nevertheless, exposure to an increasing temperature of 4°C (T2) appeared to accelerate oogenesis with an early peak value in GSI and level of plasma T recorded in January relative to T1-exposed females. In males, the low GSI, reduced level of plasma 11-KT and the absence of GSI increase from January to March support the deleterious effects of increasing water temperature on spermatogenesis. The findings of the present study suggest that exposure to elevated temperatures within the context of climate warming might affect the reproductive success of C. gobio. Specifically, a 4°C rise in water temperature affects gametogenesis by advancing the spawning, and a complete reproductive failure is observed at an elevated temperature of 8°C.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-399
Number of pages11
JournalFish Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012

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