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Habitat use, urea production and spawning in the gulf toadfish Opsanus beta
Barimo, J.F.; Serafy, J.E.; Frezza, P.E.; Walsh, P.J. (2007). Habitat use, urea production and spawning in the gulf toadfish Opsanus beta. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 150(3): 497-508.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Barimo, J.F.
  • Serafy, J.E.
  • Frezza, P.E.
  • Walsh, P.J.

    Field studies were conducted in Johnson Key Basin, Florida Bay, USA from September 2002 through September 2004 to examine physiological, ecological, and behavioral characteristics of the gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta (Goode and Bean in Proc US Natl Mes 3:333–345, 1880), in relation to nitrogen metabolism, habitat usage, and spawning. Fish collected 5 cm above sediments in experimental shelters (epibenthic) were compared with those collected by throw traps which were found on or burrowing within sediments. The relationship between microhabitat ammonia and urea excretion, as determined by the enzymatic activity of glutamine synthetase (GS), was examined. The hypothesis tested was that O. beta occupying epibenthic nests were less ureotelic with lower GS activities than non-nesting individuals on/in sediments, due to a decreased environmental ammonia burden. Porewater total ammonia (T Amm) concentrations at a sediment depth of 5 cm, i.e., the approximate depth of burrowing toadfish, ranged from 0 to 106.5 µmol N l-1 while the pH ranged from 7.48 to 9.14. There was a weak but significant correlation between environmental ammonia (NH3) concentration and hepatic GS activity for epibenthic toadfish (P < 0.001, r 2 = 0.10), but not for burrowing toadfish. Mean urea-N and T Amm concentrations within shelters occupied by toadfish (n = 281) were 9.8 ± 0.83 µmol N l-1 and 13.0 ± 0.7 µmol N l-1, respectively. As predicted, hepatic GS activity was significantly lower in epibenthic toadfish captured in shelters (4.40 ± 0.24 µmol min-1 g-1; n = 281) as compared to individuals on/in sediments (6.61 ± 0.47 µmol min-1 g-1; n = 128). Glutamine synthetase activity generally peaked in March (spawning season) and was lowest in July. Gender differences in hepatic and branchial GS activity were also found during the spawning season, which is attributable to the fact that males brood and guard offspring in their epibenthic nests while females often rest on or burrow into the sediments. Finally, hepatic and branchial GS appeared to have different patterns of enzymatic activity suggesting functional differences in gene expression.

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