In vivo experiments were conducted to examine the haematology of juveniles from two relic bony fishes, Atlantic sturgeon Acipenser oxyrhinchus and shortnose sturgeon Acipenser brevirostrum. Oxygen transport characteristics (haematocrit, haemoglobin and mean erythrocytic haemoglobin concentration), ionic composition (Na+, Cl−, K+ and osmolality), metabolite concentration (lactate, cortisol and glucose) and protein content in blood were measured or calculated at rest and during recovery from forced activity. Under resting conditions, plasma osmolality and concentrations of Na+, Cl−, lactate, cortisol and total protein were significantly different between Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon. All other resting variables were not different between species. Following forced activity, plasma lactate levels were significantly higher in both species than at rest. Plasma cortisol levels in both species were only significantly higher 1 h following forced activity compared to resting values. Plasma lactate levels were significantly higher in Atlantic sturgeon than in shortnose sturgeon, but these levels returned to resting levels by 1 h in both species. Cortisol increases were greater in shortnose sturgeon than in Atlantic sturgeon. In general, oxygen transport characteristics, blood glucose, plasma protein and plasma osmolality were not altered by forced activity in either sturgeon species. Overall, both species had reduced responses (i.e. the magnitude of changes in measured variables) to forced activity compared with teleosts.
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