Post-hatch development is a complex period of life history in which several key events take place including gill development, the onset of exogenous feeding, and dramatic changes in surface area-to-volume ratios. These developmental transitions impose constraints on physiological systems such that mechanisms of ion and gas exchange differ between post-hatch larvae and adults. Research in developmental fish physiology is just beginning to uncover how these ontogenetic constraints influence physiological traits such as tolerance to extremes in salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature.
Timing of physiological transitions in early development in rainbow trout
Adapted from Zimmer et al. (2017) J Exp Biol 220, 3843–3855
Main Research Questions
1) How does salinity tolerance change over development in a model euryhaline fish, mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), and what is the physiological and molecular basis of these changes?
2) Does exposure to environmental challenges (e.g., extremes in salinity or pH) during key developmental windows in early life history influence ionoregulatory traits in later life?
3) How is the ontogeny of specific subtypes of ion-transporting cells (ionocytes) influenced by environmental salinity in developing mummichog?