Divergent Hypoxia Tolerance in Adult Males and Females of the Plainfin Midshipman (Porichthys notatus) Journal Articles uri icon

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  • In the summer, the plainfin midshipman (Poricththys notatus) migrates to reproduce in the nearshore environment, where oxygen levels are influenced by the tidal cycles. Parental males establish nests under rocks in the intertidal zone, where they reside until the eggs they guard are fully developed. In contrast, females and sneaker males leave the nests shortly after spawning. We examined the physiological resistance and metabolic response of parental male and female adult midshipman to hypoxia to test whether they exhibited sex-specific differences reflecting their reproductive strategies. Further, we assessed whether metabolic enzymes and metabolites were differentially enriched in tissues of parental males and females to explain the differences observed in their hypoxia tolerance. While parental males and females exhibited similar depression of their oxygen consumption in response to graded hypoxia, parental males could withstand significantly longer exposures to severe hypoxic stress. At the biochemical level, parental males showed higher hepatic glycogen reserves and higher glycolytic enzyme capacities in gills and skeletal muscles than females. Although some of these enzymatic variations could be explained by differences in body size, we also observed a significant effect of sex on some of these factors. These results suggest that parental male midshipman may benefit from sexual dimorphism at the whole-organismal (larger body size) and biochemical (enzyme activities) levels, conferring on them a higher glycolytic potential to sustain the extensive hypoxia bouts they experience in nature.


  • LeMoine, Christophe MR
  • Bucking, Carol
  • Craig, Paul M
  • Walsh, Patrick J

publication date

  • March 2014