Long Term Hypoxia Suppresses Reproductive Capacity In the Estuarine Fish, Fundulus grandis

Document Type


Publication Date



Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Human nutrient input has significantly altered dissolved oxygen (DO) cycles in coastal waters such that summertime hypoxia (DO <2 mg/L) and anoxia of bottom water are common worldwide. Prolonged hypoxia usually reduces metabolic rate in fish and potentially reduces reproduction, particularly in a spring and summer spawning species such as the Gulf killifish, Fundulus grandis. To evaluate the effects of long term hypoxia on reproduction, Gulf killifish were subjected to either normoxia (6.68 +/- 2.1 mg/L DO) or hypoxia (1.34 +/- 0.45 mg/L DO) for one month. Fecundity, growth, gonadosomatic index (GSI), circulating sex steroids (testosterone, T; 11-ketotestosterone, 11KT, and estradiol-17 beta, E2), and egg yolk protein (vitellogenin, VTG) were measured. Hypoxia significantly reduced growth and reproduction. E2 was 50% lower in females and 11KT was 50% lower in males, although the precursor hormone T was unchanged in either sex after hypoxic exposure. Hypoxia-exposed females produced significantly fewer eggs and initiated spawning later than control fish. Plasma VTG concentration was unchanged, suggesting that hypoxia may delay VTG uptake by oocytes. Long term laboratory exposure clearly suppressed reproductive capacity in Gulf killifish. Wild populations experience cyclic hypoxia which could have equivalent effects if daily hypoxic periods are long and frequent - a potential consequence of anthropogenic nutrient enrichment in marsh systems. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A-Molecular & Integrative Physiology





First Page


Last Page