The potential impacts of migratory difficulty, including warmer waters and altered flow conditions, on the reproductive success of salmonid fishes

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle


Climate change and urbanisation of watercourses affect water temperatures and current flow velocities in river systems on a global scale. This represents a particularly critical issue for migratory fish species with complex life histories that use rivers to reproduce. Salmonids are migratory keystone species that provide substantial economical value to ecosystems and human societies. Consequently, a comprehensive understanding of the effects of environmental stressors on their reproductive success is critical in order to ensure their continued abundance during future climatic change. Salmonids are capital breeders, relying entirely on endogenous energy stores to fuel return migration to their natal spawning sites and reproduction upon arrival. Metabolic rates and cost of transport en-route increase with temperature and at extreme temperatures, swimming is increasingly fuelled anaerobically, resulting in an oxygen debt and reduced capacity to recover from exhaustive exercise. Thermally challenged salmonids also produce less viable gametes, which themselves are affected by water temperature after release. Passage through hydrological barriers and temperature changes both affect energy expenditure. As a result, important energetic tradeoffs emerge between extra energy used during migration and that available for other facets of the reproductive cycle, such as reproductive competition and gamete production. However, studies identifying these tradeoffs are extremely sparse. This review focuses on the specific locomotor responses of salmonids to thermal and hydrological challenges, identifying gaps in our knowledge and highlighting the potential implications for key aspects of their reproduction.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages10
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
StatePublished - Mar 2016