Measuring water-borne cortisol in Poecilia latipinna:is the process stressful, can stress be minimized and is cortisol correlated with sex steroid release rates?

Authors


Tel.: +1 512 245-3387; email: Gabor@txstate.edu

Abstract

The stress of water-borne hormone collection process was examined in sailfin mollies Poecilia latipinna. Baseline release rates of the stress hormone cortisol were measured and minimum confinement time for water sampling was evaluated for a standard 60 min v. a 30 min protocol. A 30 min hormone collection period reflects release rates over 60 min. Potential stress response to confinement in the beaker for the water-borne collection process was tested over 4 days. There was no evidence of stress due to the collection methods, as cortisol release rates did not differ significantly across four sequential days of handling for P. latipinna. Males and females did not differ significantly in baseline cortisol release rates. Baseline cortisol release rates from fish immediately after being collected in the field were also not significantly different than those in the 4 day confinement experiment. After exposure to a novel environment, however, P. latipinna mounted a stress response. Stress may also affect sex steroids and behaviour but cortisol release rates were not significantly correlated with sex steroids [11-ketotestosterone (KT), testosterone, or oestradiol], or mating attempts. The correlation between water-borne release rates and plasma steroid levels was validated for both cortisol and KT. Finally, normalizing cortisol release rates using standard length in lieu of mass is viable and accurate. Water-borne hormone assays are a valuable tool for investigating questions concerning the role of hormones in mediating stress responses and reproductive behaviours in P. latipinna and other livebearing fishes.

Ancillary