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Effect of thermal variation on the cardiac thermal limits of a eurythermal marine teleost (Girella nigricans)

Cite this dataset

Schwieterman, Gail D.; Hardison, Emily A.; Eliason, Erika J. (2022). Effect of thermal variation on the cardiac thermal limits of a eurythermal marine teleost (Girella nigricans) [Dataset]. Dryad.


Although most animals live in complex, thermally variable environments, the impact of this variability on specific physiological systems is still unresolved. The ectotherm heart is known to change in both structure and function to ensure appropriate oxygen delivery under different thermal regimes, but the plasticity of the upper thermal limits of the heart under stable or variable thermal acclimation conditions remains unknown. To investigate the role of thermal variability on cardiac acclimation potential, we acclimated a eurythermal fish, opaleye (Girella nigricans), to three static temperature treatments (13, 16, and 19 °C) as well as two oscillating treatments which cycled between maximum and minimum temperatures every 12 h (13–19 °C and 16–22 °C). These temperatures and daily thermal ranges were chosen to mimic the conditions observed in the rocky intertidal environments in Santa Barbara, CA, USA where the fish were collected. We hypothesized that increasing temperature would increase upper thermal limits of the heart, and that variable acclimations would result in broader acute thermal performance curves (TPCs) compared to static acclimations. We measured maximum heart rate during acute warming to determine cardiac thermal performance (i.e., the temperature corresponding to the onset of cardiac arrythmia, the temperature at maximum heart rate, absolute maximum heart rate, and the Arrhenius breakpoint temperature) and construct acute TPCs. Rising static acclimation temperatures increased upper thermal limits but had no impact on peak maximum heart rate. The warmest static temperature did, however, cause a narrowing of the acute TPC. Fish acclimated to variable conditions had the same upper thermal limits compared to fish acclimated to static conditions with the same mean temperature in all metrics of thermal performance. Further, there was no significant broadening of the acute TPC. This study suggests that cardiac plasticity is robust to thermal variation in this eurythermal fish.


Please see main manuscript for detailed information regarding the methods used to collect/analyze this data.

Usage notes

There is a readme file describing this dataset.


Tri-Counties Blood Bank Association

National Science Foundation, Award: OCE-1232779

National Science Foundation, Award: OCE-1831937

National Science Foundation, Award: Graduate Research Fellowship

Hellman Foundation