Jackson Estuarine Laboratory


Modification of olfactory-related behavior in juvenile salmon by changes in pH


The hypothesis that low pH modifies the response of salmonids to certain olfactory stimuli was tested. An interactive video-computer system was used to monitor the behavior of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). At a pH of 7.6, animals were attracted to glycine and avoidedl-alanine. These effects were dose-dependent, with a threshold of 10−7 M. The response of the fish to both amino acids changed when the pH of the test chamber was gradually lowered from 7.6 to 5.1; they became attracted tol-alanine and indifferent to glycine. These effects were reversible with a return to pH 7.6. Our findings suggest that acid rain may contribute to reductions in salmonid populations in acidified rivers by impairing the recognition of olfactory cues by salmon during their spawning migration.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Chemical Ecology



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987