A manipulative thermal challenge protocol for adult salmonids in remote field settings

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Manipulative experiments provide stronger evidence for identifying cause-and-effect relationships than correlative studies, but protocols for implementing temperature manipulations are lacking for large species in remote settings. We developed an experimental protocol for holding adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and exposing them to elevated temperature treatments. The goal of the experimental protocol was to validate heat stress biomarkers by increasing river water temperature from ambient (∼14°C) to a treatment temperature of 18°C or 21°C and then maintain the treatment temperature over 4 hours within a range of ±1.0°C. Our protocol resulted in a mean rate of temperature rise of 3.71°C h-1 (SD = 1.31) to treatment temperatures and mean holding temperatures of 18.0°C (SD = 0.2) and 21.0°C (SD = 0.2) in the low- and high-heat treatments, respectively. Our work demonstrated that manipulative experiments with large, mobile study species can be successfully developed in remote locations to examine thermal stress.




Donnelly, D. S., Von Biela, V. R., McCormick, S. D., Laske, S. M., Carey, M. P., Waters, S., … Zimmerman, C. E. (2020). A manipulative thermal challenge protocol for adult salmonids in remote field settings. Conservation Physiology, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/coaa074

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