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Effects of salinity on standard metabolic rate and critical oxygen tension in the giant freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii)


Correspondence: R Ern, Zoophysiology, Department of Biological Sciences, Aarhus University, Building 1131, C.F. Mollers Allé 3, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. E-mail:


The extensively farmed giant freshwater shrimp, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, can survive salinities up to 26 g L−1, but the commercially important grow-out occurs exclusively in freshwater areas. Recent studies suggest the shrimp equally capable of growing in brackish as fresh water and a better understanding of how this species responds to changing salinity could significantly impact freshwater prawn farming in deltas and coastal areas. Here, the effect of salinity (0 and 15 g L−1) on standard metabolic rate (SMR) and critical oxygen tension (Pcrit) was measured in adult M. rosenbergii using intermittent closed respirometry. SMR was 79.8 ± 3.1 and 72.7 ± 2.9 μmol kg−1 min−1 in fresh and brackish water, respectively, with no significant difference between the two salinities (P = 0.122). During hypoxia M. rosenbergii maintained oxygen uptake down to a Pcrit of 26.3 ± 1.4 mmHg in fresh and 27.2 ± 2.0 mmHg in brackish water (P = 0.682), showing that salinity had no overall effect on oxygen conductance in the animals. These findings are in agreement with recent growth studies and provide further evidence that grow-out phase could be accomplished in brackish water areas. Thus, the predicted intrusions of brackish water in tropical deltas as a consequence of future global warming may not impact this important production.