The autonomic nervous system has a central role in the control and co-ordination of the cardiovascular system in all vertebrates. In fish, which represent the largest and most diverse vertebrate group, the autonomic control of the circulation displays a vast variation with a number of interesting deviations from the typical vertebrate pattern. This diversity ranges from virtually no known nervous control of the circulation in hagfish, to a fully developed dual control from both cholinergic and adrenergic nerves in teleost, much resembling the situation found in other vertebrate groups. This review summarizes current knowledge on the role of the autonomic nervous system in the control of the cardiovascular system in fish. We set out by providing an overview of the general trends and patterns in the major fish groups, and then a summary of how the autonomic nervous control is involved in normal daily activities such as barostatic control of blood pressure, as well as adjustments of the cardiovascular system during feeding and environmental hypoxia.
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