An hypoxia-tolerant flatfish: consequences of sustained stress on the slender sole Lyopsetta exilis (Pleuronectidae) in the context of a changing ocean

Date

2019

Authors

Tunnicliffe, Verena
Gasbarro, Ryan
Juanes, Francis
Qualley, Jessica
Soderberg, Nicole
Chu, Jackson W. F.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Journal of Fish Biology

Abstract

Slender sole Lyopsetta exilis is an abundant groundfish on the continental shelf and inner waters of British Columbia, Canada, where it reaches a maximum standard length of 44 cm. Benthic image surveys coupled with oxygen measurements in Saanich Inlet document a dense population in bottom conditions near anoxia (0.03 ml l−1 oxygen) where diel migrating zooplankton intersect the bottom; we confirm this species is a planktivore, which limits its depth range to the base of the migration layer. In a comparison with slender sole from a nearby well‐oxygenated habitat, several probable effects of living in severe hypoxia emerge: both sexes are significantly smaller in Saanich and the sex ratio is male‐skewed. Otoliths from the Saanich fish were difficult to read due to many checks, but both sexes were smaller at age with the largest female (20 cm) from the hypoxia zone registering 17 years. Hypoxia appears to have a direct consequence on growth despite good food supply in this productive basin. Hyperventilation, a low metabolic rate and a very low critical oxygen tension help this fish regulate oxygen uptake in severely hypoxic conditions; it will be particularly resilient as the incidence of hypoxia increases on the continental shelf. Data from small‐mesh bottom‐trawl surveys over four decades reveal an increase in mean annual catch per unit effort in southern regions of the province, including the outer shelf and the Strait of Georgia. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI) ichthyoplankton database records a general decline in fish larvae on the Oregon–California shelf since 1990, but slender sole larvae are increasing there, as they are in the Strait of Georgia. We project that the slender sole will gain relative benefits in the future warming, deoxygenated northeast Pacific Ocean.

Description

Keywords

growth response, NE Pacific Ocean, otoliths, oxygen stress, population change, Saanich Inlet

Citation

Tunnicliffe, V., Gasbarro, R., Juanes, F., Qualley, J., Soderberg, N., & Chu, J. W. F. (2019). An hypoxia-tolerant flatfish: consequences of sustained stress on the slender sole Lyopsetta exilis (Pleuronectidae) in the context of a changing ocean. Journal of Fish Biology, 96(2), 394-407. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14212.