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The response of individuals from three different populations of three-spined sticklebacks to acute and chronic periods of hypoxia (4.4 kPa DO, 2.2 mg l-1) were tested using measures of whole-body (WB) cortisol, glucose and lactate. Although there was no evidence of a neuroendocrine stress response to acute hypoxia, fish from the population least likely to experience hypoxia in their native habitat had the largest response to low oxygen, with significant evidence of anaerobic glycolysis after two hours of hypoxia. However, there was no measurable effect of a more prolonged period (seven days) of hypoxia on any of the fish in this study, suggesting that they acclimated to this low level of oxygen over time. Between-population differences in the analytes tested were observed in the control fish of the acute hypoxia trial, which had been in the laboratory for 16 days. However, these differences were not apparent among the control fish in the chronic exposure groups that had been held in the laboratory for 23 days suggesting that these site-specific trends in physiological status were acclimatory. Overall, the results of this study suggest that local environmental conditions may shape sticklebacks’ general physiological profile as well as influencing their response to hypoxia.


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