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Embryo oxygenation in pipefish brood pouches: novel insights
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal ecology.
2015 (English)In: Journal of Experimental Biology, ISSN 0022-0949, E-ISSN 1477-9145, Vol. 218, no 11, 1639-1646 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The pipefish brood pouch presents a unique mode of parental care that enables males to protect, osmoregulate, nourish and oxygenate the developing young. Using a very fine O-2 probe, we assessed the extent to which males of the broad-nosed pipefish (Syngnathus typhle) oxygenate the developing embryos and are able to maintain pouch fluid O-2 levels when brooding in normoxia (100% O-2 saturation) and hypoxia (40% O-2 saturation) for 24 days. In both treatments, pouch fluid-O-2 saturation levels were lower compared with the surrounding water and decreased throughout the brooding period, reflecting greater offspring demand for O-2 during development and/or decreasing paternal ability to provide O-2 to the embryos. Male condition (hepatosomatic index) was negatively affected by hypoxia. Larger males had higher pouch fluid O-2 saturation levels compared with smaller males, and levels were higher in the bottom section of the pouch compared with other sections. Embryo size was positively correlated with O-2 availability, irrespective of their position in the pouch. Two important conclusions can be drawn from our findings. First, our results highlight a potential limitation to brooding within the pouch and dismiss the notion of closed brood pouches as well-oxygenated structures promoting the evolution of larger eggs in syngnathids. Second, we provide direct evidence that paternal care improves with male size in this species. This finding offers an explanation for the documented strong female preference for larger partners because, in terms of oxygenation, the brood pouch can restrict embryo growth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 218, no 11, 1639-1646 p.
Keyword [en]
Embryo development, Fish, Hypoxia, Male size, Normoxia, Paternal care, Syngnathidae
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-257012DOI: 10.1242/jeb.120907ISI: 000355602000011PubMedID: 26041030OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-257012DiVA: diva2:828080
Available from: 2015-06-29 Created: 2015-06-29 Last updated: 2015-07-13Bibliographically approved

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