AlumniM.Sc. Students - Alumni  (May 2013 - May 2015)
Studying Stress in the Laid-Back Bahamas
Despite the Bahamas reputation for being easy-going, mangrove residents are subjected daily to a variety of natural and anthropogenic stressors. Naomi Pleizier, a MSc. student from the Cooke Lab, traveled to the Cape Eleuthera Institute, Eleuthera Island, to examine how short-term stress affects the long-term fitness of the checkered puffer fish (Sphoeroides testudineus).
Checkered puffers have adapted to withstand both the fluctuating mangrove environment and the threat of local predators. Puffers are best known for their capacity to inflate in order to avoid predation, but their defenses also include their toxic tissues and deliver a fierce bite. This species’ behavioural responses to predators make it a good candidate for the study of stress.
Naomi, together with Liane Nowell and a team of CEI interns, seined Page Creek to capture the puffers and transported them to the lab. There, the team treated one group of fish with a stress hormone, cortisol, and all fish were tagged. These fish were then returned to the creek. In December, the team plans to recapture the tagged fish. The recaptured puffers will undergo a series of tests to determine how the stress hormone affected their condition, immune response, and a range of behaviours, including bite force, puffing amplitude and duration, boldness vs. hiding, and others.
Two weeks post-release the group returned to Page Creek to perform a partial recapture. The team was surprised to recapture about half of the tagged fish and were pleased to see that most of the tagging wounds were healing well. We can’t wait to see how the puffers will be doing in six months!
Lab Publications (6)
Pleizier, N.K., C. Nelson, S.J. Cooke and C.J. Brauner. In Press. Understanding gas bubble trauma in an era of hydropower expansion: How do fish compensate at depth? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 00:000-000.
Magel, J.M.T., N. Pleizier, A.D.M. Wilson, A.D. Shultz, M.N. Vera-Chang, T.W. Moon and S.J. Cooke. 2017. Do physical habitat complexity and predator cues influence the baseline and stress-induced glucocorticoid levels of a mangrove-associated fish? Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 203:281-287.
Pleizier, N., A.D.M. Wilson, A.D. Shultz and S.J. Cooke. 2015. Puffed and bothered: personality, performance, and the effects of stress on checkered pufferfish. Physiology and Behavior. 152: 68-78.
Dufour, K., L.F.G. Gutowsky, D. Algera, A. Zolderdo, J.M.T. Magel, N. Pleizier, M. Dick and S.J. Cooke. 2015. An experimental test of in-season homing mechanisms used by nest-guarding male Largemouth Bass following displacement. Behavioural Processes. 120:87-93.
Sopinka, N.M., L.D. Patterson, J.C. Redfern, N. Pleizier, C. Belanger, J.D. Midwood, G.T. Crossin and S.J. Cooke. 2015. Manipulating glucocorticoids in wild animals: basic and applied perspectives. Conservation Physiology. 3(1): cov031 doi:10.1093/conphys/cov031