Effects of salinity on specific gravity and viability of eggs of a North American minnow (Cyprinidae)


  • David E. Cowley Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University
  • Janelle C. Alleman Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University
  • Rossana Sallenave Department of Biology, Colorado State University - Department of Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources, New Mexico State University
  • Ryan R. McShane Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University - Department of Biology, Colorado State University
  • Patrick D. Shirey Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University - Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame




fish egg drift, buoyancy, osmosis, survival, Hybognathus amarus


The influence of salinity on survival, specific gravity, and size of eggs of the endangered Hybognathus amarus (Rio Grande silvery minnow) was studied to provide insight into factors affecting their potential dispersal and fate. Under low salinity conditions egg specific gravity declined significantly in the first hour after spawning as the perivitelline space of the egg filled with water. Egg specific gravity achieved a minimum value approximately 1 h post-spawning and remained approximately constant until hatching, which occurred near 48 h post-spawning at 20°C. Specific gravity of the egg depended on the salinity of the water surrounding the egg: hardened eggs changed rapidly in diameter and specific gravity when exposed to water of higher salinity. Size and specific gravity of H. amarus eggs also differed when the eggs were incubated in different groundwater sources. Experiments indicated that calcium chloride saline solution had a greater effect on egg specific gravity and size than did solutions of sodium or potassium chlorides. Survival of H. amarus eggs declined sharply at salinity greater than 3 (practical salinity units, PSU) and was only 5% at a salinity of 8. Habitat restoration to benefit H. amarus should consider the salinity of habitats in which eggs incubate.


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How to Cite

Cowley DE, Alleman JC, Sallenave R, McShane RR, Shirey PD. Effects of salinity on specific gravity and viability of eggs of a North American minnow (Cyprinidae). scimar [Internet]. 2009Oct.30 [cited 2023Nov.28];73(S1):47-58. Available from: https://scientiamarina.revistas.csic.es/index.php/scientiamarina/article/view/1108