• Oxygen consumption of both Niphargus species increased during post-hypoxic recovery
  • Oxygen consumption of hypogen species gradually decreased after reaching maximum
  • Increased temperature modified the metabolic responses to hypoxia
  • Responses differed between closely related epigean and hypogean Niphargus species


Ecological performance of animals depends on physiological and biochemical processes that are adjusted to the environment. The responses to hypoxia or anoxia have been frequently studied in subterranean aquatic organisms in order to find potential adaptations to restrict oxygen conditions occurring in the underground habitats. However, some previous studies have compared phylogenetic distant epigean and hypogean species or the epigean and hypogean populations of the same species due to little chance to compare closely related epigean and hypogean species. Therefore, in this study, we compared the effects of exposure to hypoxia, followed by reoxygenation, and increased temperature on oxygen consumption, potential metabolic activity, and antioxidant activities in closely related epigean and hypogean species: Niphargus zagrebensis and N. stygius. Oxygen consumption of N. stygius increased similarly during post-hypoxic recovery at 10 and 20°C (approx. 5-times), while N. zagrebensis increased its oxygen consumption for 9.7 and 4.4-times at 10 and 20°C, respectively. We observed higher exploitation of metabolic potential for current oxygen consumption during reoxygenation in N. zagrebensis than N. stygius. Exposure to hypoxia and subsequent reoxygenation at 20°C increased catalase (CAT) activity in N. stygius, but not in N. zagrebensis. We observed increased glutathione reductase activity in both Niphargus species. We concluded that respiratory and antioxidant responses to severe hypoxia and increased temperature differed between closely related epigean and hypogean Niphargus species. Hypogean Niphargus species possess physiological and biochemical characteristics that are advantageous in temperature stable subterranean environments which support inhabiting of species that have low energetic demands, while epigean Niphargus species can successfully inhabit specific surface habitats.



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