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Appears in Collections:Aquaculture eTheses
Title: Environmental management of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and turbot (Scophthalamus maximus): implications of noise, light and substrate
Authors: Sierra Flores, Rogelio
Supervisor(s): Migaud, Herve
Davie, Andrew
Keywords: Light spectrum
Atlantic cod
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: During the last decades marine aquaculture has steadily expanded and diversified to include a wider range of commercial species. Despite the intense effort towards understanding the biological requirements of farmed species, several issues remain to be addressed. Mariculture success is restricted by a number of production bottlenecks including limited seed supply, caused mainly through a combination of compromised productivity in broodstock paired with high mortalities during the early life stages. Productivity and survival success is often dependent on the successful recreation of natural environmental conditions. While in a commercial setting a concerted effort is generally made to simulate key environmental stimuli there remains a lack of understanding of the significance of many potential signals. The overarching aim of this thesis was to investigate the effects of some of the overlooked environmental stimuli on fish performance in enclosed facilities and where possible relate this to the natural setting from which the species have been removed. The studies contained in this text are focused on the effects of anthropogenic noise, light spectral composition and substrate on the performance of broodstock and juvenile development of two valuable commercial marine species Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus). The aim of Chapter 3 was to test if artificial sound can act as a stressor in Atlantic cod and thereafter to examine if chronic sound disturbances can compromise broodstock spawning performance in land-based facilities. Results showed that anthropogenic noises in a land-based marine farm are within the auditory thresholds of cod and other fish species. Juvenile cod exposed to 10 min of artificial noise (100-1,000 Hz) from 10 to 20 dB 1 re µPa above background sound levels presented a typical acute stress response with a 4 fold elevation of plasma cortisol levels within 20 min, with a return to basal levels after 40 min, while the intensity of the stress response (in terms of amplitude and return to normal levels) appeared to be correlated to the noise level applied. When a similar artificial noise of 35 dB 1 re µPa above background sound level was applied to a broodstock population daily on a random schedule during the spawning season, it significantly impacted on reproductive performances in comparison to a control undisturbed population with notably a reduction in fertilisation rate that correlated with increased egg cortisol contents. Overall, these studies confirmed, for the first time, that artificial noise mimicking anthropogenic sounds generated in marine land-based facilities trigger a typical acute stress response if a similar sound exposure is then applied in a chronic manner it resulted in reduced broodstock spawning performances. Overall this work provides novel evidence on the potential of anthropogenic noise to act as stressor in fish. The possible implications for both captive and wild stock are discussed. In chapter 4 the effects of light spectrum and tank background colour on Atlantic cod and turbot larval performance from hatch until the end of metamorphosis were investigated. In both species larvae exposed to shorter wavelengths (blue and green spectrums) showed significantly enhanced growth in terms of standard length, myotome height, eye diameter and condition factor in comparison to larvae exposed to longer wavelengths (red). Larvae performances in the colour background experiment differed between species. Atlantic cod larvae reared in a red tank background displayed the best growth and survival, while larvae in blue tank background had a significant positive effect on final survival rate. In contrast, turbot larvae survival rates were the highest in the red tank background colour with the lowest growth parameters, while larvae in the blue tank background displayed the best growth. In both species, white tank background colour resulted in the lowest final survival rate. These results highlight the biological relevance of light spectrum and background colour in marine larvae performance and survival, demonstrating the importance of considering the light composition of the light units used in the hatcheries for larval rearing. Subsequently in chapter 5 the effects of light spectrum in juvenile turbot growth, appetite, stress response and skin pigmentation were investigated. Two sets of experiments were performed with post-metamorphosed (1 g) and on-growing (100 g) turbot. Results demonstrated that short wavelength treatments had a significant positive effect on growth parameters (total length and wet weight), food intake and feeding response. Light treatments caused a positive correlation between plasma glucose and cortisol levels with significant differences between the short and long wavelength treatments. Skin pigmentation was affected by the light treatments, showing a relationship between wavelength and brightness (negative) and darkness (positive). Blue light treatment resulted in brighter and lighter skin colouration, while red light had the opposite effect: darkening of the skin. Overall these results confirm that turbot juveniles performance is enhanced by exposing them to a similar photic environment than the one from the natural ecological niche. Light spectrum intervenes in skin pigmentation and the possible mechanisms behind the variations are discussed. In general chapter 5 provides background knowledge of the possible implications of light spectrum in fish juveniles performance and possible commercial applications. The final two experimental chapters turned focus back on the optimisation of broodstock environmental management and subsequent effects on their productivity. In Chapter 6 the importance of crepuscular light simulation was investigated in Atlantic cod broodstock spawning performance. No significant impact could be observed in terms of egg production and quality in association with dawn/dusk simulation compared to abrupt lights on/off. This suggests, at least for Atlantic cod, that crepuscular light simulation is not a key factor affecting spawning performance during the spawning window. The possible implications of twilight on gamete quality prior ovulation are discussed. In Chapter 7 the effect of a “breeding nest” containing a substrate (i.e. sand) in turbot broodstock spawning performance was investigated. Behavioural observation recorded active occupancy of the nests with the suggestion of social structuring as specific individuals (females) occupied the nest preferentially. However no fertilised, naturally released eggs were collected from the overflow during the spawning seasons. This would suggest that the presence of a nest is not enough to induce natural spawning behaviour in turbot in itself however the elective occupancy suggests that nests and/or their substrate was a physical enrichment that was valued by the fish which should be explored further. Overall the studies contained in this thesis highlight further the importance of considering noise and light as crucial environmental factors in marine aquaculture. Results from the different chapters offer a possible application within the enclosed facilities that might contribute to the success of the industry. Present findings contribute towards the understanding of the effects of environmental signals in fish and provide further insight to guide further lines of research on the involvement of light spectrum on fish physiology.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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