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The osmoregulatory metabolism of the starry flounder, Platichthys stellatus Hickman, Cleveland Pendleton Jr.

Abstract

Energy demands for osmotic regulation and the possible osmoregulatory role of the thyroid gland were investigated in the euryhaline starry flounder, Platichthys stellatus. Using a melting-point technique, it was established that flounder could regulate body fluid concentration independent of widely divergent environmental salinities. Small flounder experienced more rapid disturbances of body fluid concentration than large flounder after abrupt salinity alterations. The standard metabolic rate of flounder adapted to fresh water was consistently and significantly less than that of marine flounder. In supernormal salinities standard metabolic rate was significantly greater than in normal sea water. These findings agree with the theory that energy demands for active electrolyte transport are greater in sea water than fresh water. Thyroid activity was studied in flounder adapted to fresh water and salt water. Correlative with the higher metabolic rate of small flounder was the more rapid turnover and excretion of radioiodine and greater thyroid uptake of small than large flounder. Percentage uptake of radioiodine by the thyroid was shown to be an insensitive and inaccurate criterion for evaluating thyroid activity in different salinities because removal rates of radioiodine from the body and blood differed between fresh water and marine flounder. Using thyroid clearance of radioiodine from the blood as a measure of activity, salt water flounder were shown to have much greater thyroid clearance rates and, hence, more active thyroid glands than flounder adapted to fresh water. The greater activity of the thyroid of marine flounder correlates with greater oxygen demands in sea water and suggests a direct or adjunctive osmoregulatory role of the thyroid gland of fish.

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