The metabolic and biochemical responses of a tropical elasmobranch to alterations in environmental temperature

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Fish Biology




The capacity of tropical whitespotted bamboo sharks Chiloscyllium plagiosum to metabolically compensate, at both the whole-animal and biochemical levels, to prolonged exposure to temperatures higher (30° C) and lower (20 and 15° C) than their native temperature (24·5° C) was examined. As expected, whitespotted bamboo shark oxygen consumption increased upon exposure to 30° C and decreased at 20 and 15° C. Initial changes in oxygen consumption were maintained even after months at the experimental temperature, indicating that whitespotted bamboo sharks did not compensate metabolically to the experimental temperatures. Maximal activities and thermal sensitivity of citrate synthase and lactate dehydrogenase from whitespotted bamboo shark white locomotor muscle were similar between control animals maintained at 24·5° C and those maintained at 15° C, indicating that cold-exposed animals did not compensate at the biochemical level. Similarly, lactate dehydrogenase activity did not change following prolonged exposure to 30° C. White muscle from whitespotted bamboo sharks maintained at 30° C had significantly lower citrate synthase activity than did control animals. This result was surprising given the lack of metabolic compensation at the whole-animal level. Overall, whole-animal oxygen consumption measurements supported the hypothesis that animals from thermally stable environments lacked the capacity to metabolically compensate to altered temperatures. Enzymatic results, however, suggested that the metabolic potential of muscle could change following temperature acclimation even in the absence of metabolic compensation at the whole-animal level.