Acid water tolerance in a New Zealand native freshwater fish
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Physiological experiments were conducted to measure the effects of low pH water upon Na⁺ fluxes and swimming performance in east coast neutral water banded kokopu, and west coast banded kokopu living in naturally acid water. This allowed comparisons to be made regarding the relative acid tolerance between the two population stocks. A morphological study of the gills using scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy was carried out on a limited number of fish to compare gill structures of east coast acid and non acid exposed fish with west coast fish. East coast kokopu from neutral water showed a reduced sodium influx on the first day of exposure to pH4 water. This was accompanied by a reduction in passive loss or efflux. After 4 days at pH4 influx recovered allowing the fish to approach sodium balance. West coast fish showed no significant change in influx upon introduction to pH7 water and maintained influx values in pH4 water near those measured for control fish. For east coast fish, swimming performance was significantly impaired on the 2nd swimming trial when pH was lowered from 7 to 4. On the third swim with the pH returned to 7, Ucrit was similar to the initial value. West coast banded kokopu showed a significant increase in performance between trial one and three and were unaffected by pH7 water, matching performances measured in control fish. Gills from east coast acid exposed fish resembled west coast fish in that the trailing edges of the lamellae were swollen due to the large numbers of chloride cells which were present to a point approximately half way up the lamellar edge. Microridges were present on the apical surfaces of the chloride cells of east coast control fish which contrasted with the microvilli structures observed in west coast and acid exposed east coast fish. The microvilli structures present on the chloride cells of west coast and east coast acid exposed banded kokopu appeared to assist in the anchorage of mucus to the apical surface of the cell.