Evolutionary ecology

Effect of ambient oxygen on life history and behaviour of guppies

An open master project in the Guppy Group of EvoFish.

Main content

Dissolved oxygen is one of the most critical limiting factors for life in aquatic ecosystems, but its effect on life history parameters such as growth and reproductive traits has been little studied (Kolding et al. 2008, Pauly 2010).

Dissolved oxygen could sometimes be an important factor driving phenotypic trends in fish populations, confounding phenotypic trends caused by other drivers such as fisheries-induced selection. The aim of this project is to study the effect of oxygen concentrations on selected life history parameters of guppies under controlled laboratory conditions. Guppy is a widely-used model organism in evolutionary biology, and its life-history evolution has been subject to numerous studies, both in the lab and in the wild.

This project will be part of the guppy activity at EvoFish.

Objective: Test whether different concentration of ambient dissolved oxygen has significant effects on life history and reproductive traits of guppies (Poecilia reticulata).

Hypothesis: We predict that reduced oxygen levels lead to earlier maturation and stunted adult body size.

Methods: Juvenile guppies are raised under controlled conditions, subject to different levels of dissolved oxygen. Individuals are observed at regular intervals to measure their body size and to estimate their maturation stage.

Supervision: Jeppe Kolding from Fisheries Ecology and Aquaculture group, and Beatriz Diaz Pauli, Anne Christine Utne Palm and Mikko Heino from EvoFish.


Kolding, J., Haug, L., and Stefansson, S. 2008. Effect of ambient oxygen on growth and reproduction in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 65: 1413-1424.

Pauly, D. 2010. Gasping Fish and Panting Squids: Oxygen, Temperature and the Growth of Water-Breathing Animals (O Kinne, Ed.). Excellence in Ecology 22. International Ecology Institute, Oldendorf/Luhe. 216 pp.