Physiological effects of salinity on Delta Smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus

Brittany D. Kammerer, Tien Chieh Hung, Randall D. Baxter, Swee J Teh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Abiotic factors like salinity are relevant to survival of pelagic fishes of the San Francisco Bay Estuary. We tested the effects of 4 parts per thousand (ppt) salinity increases on Delta Smelt (DS) in a laboratory experiment simulating salinity increases that might occur around the low-salinity zone (LSZ) (<6 ppt). Adult DS, fed 2 % body mass per day, starting at 0.5 ppt [freshwater (FW)], were exposed to weekly step-increases of 4 ppt to a maximum of 10 ppt saltwater (SW) over 19 days, and compared to FW controls. DS (n = 12/treatment per sampling) were sampled at 24, 72, and 96 h (1, 3, and 4 days) post-salinity increase for analyses of hematocrit, plasma osmolality, muscle water content, gill chloride cell (CC) Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) and apoptosis after being weighed and measured (n = 3 tanks per treatment). No apparent increase in length or weight occurred nor did a difference in survival. Following step-increases in SW, hematocrit increased over time. Other fish responses generally showed a pattern; specifically plasma osmolality became elevated at 1 day and diminished over 4 days in SW. Percent muscle water content (%) did not show significant changes. CCs showed increased NKA, cell size and apoptosis over time in SW, indicating that CCs turnover in DS. The cell renewal process takes days, at least over 19 days. In summary, DS are affected by salinities of the LSZ and ≤10 ppt, though they employ physiological strategies to acclimate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-232
Number of pages14
JournalFish Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Apoptosis
  • Chloride cells
  • Delta Smelt
  • Fluorescent confocal microscopy
  • Low-salinity zone
  • Na/K-ATPase
  • Physiology
  • Salinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science


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