Changes in the Condition Factor Have an Impact on Metabolic Rate and Swimming Performance Relationships in Atlantic Cod (Gadus Morhua L.)

Physiol Biochem Zool. Jan-Feb 2006;79(1):109-19. doi: 10.1086/498290. Epub 2005 Nov 16.


In the field, Atlantic cod face seasonal changes in food availability that in turn lead to changes in condition. To examine the physiological consequences of these changes in condition, we measured routine metabolic rate (RMR) to estimate standard metabolic rate (SMR), active metabolic rate (AMR), aerobic scope, critical swimming speed (Ucrit), cost of transport, sprint performance, time to exhaustion, and postexhaustion metabolic rate (EMR) for 24 Atlantic cod from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Cod were measured at their initial condition (condition factor of 0.676+/-0.076) and after 9 wk of feeding (condition factor of 0.923+/-0.096). These levels of condition are representative of wild cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the spring and during the fall-early winter, respectively. The improved condition did not change mass-specific SMR. However, mass-specific AMR, aerobic scope, and EMR decreased with the improvement in condition. The various measures of swimming performance were affected differently. Ucrit increased and cost of transport at 1.3 and 1.5 body lengths s(-1) decreased with improved condition, but the cost of transport at 0.3, 0.9, 1.1, 1.7, and 1.9 body lengths s(-1), sprint performance, and time to exhaustion did not change. Hierarchies for the speed at first burst-coast, the proportion of Ucrit supported by burst-coasts, and time to exhaustion were maintained with the improvement in condition. The relationships between metabolic rates and swimming performance differed with condition level, with stronger correlations apparent in the cod at their initial condition. Given the low condition of wild cod stocks, these responses indicate that reduced performance, due to both maintenance of metabolic expenditures and modified swimming capacities, may impair survival under conditions of reduced food availability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Gadus morhua / metabolism*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Swimming / physiology*