Killen et al Guidelines for the reporting of methods for estimating metabolic rates using aquatic intermittent-closed respirometry

Published: 22-02-2021| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/fky5n2nt9x.1
Shaun Killen,
Emil Christensen,
Daphne Cortese,
Libor Zavorka,
Lucy Cotgrove,
Amelie Crespel,
Amelia Munson,
Julie Nati,
Tommy Norin,
Magdalene Papatheodoulou,
David McKenzie


Data for the manuscript "Guidelines for the reporting of methods for estimating metabolic rates using aquatic intermittent closed respirometry". Interest in the measurement of metabolic rates is growing rapidly, due to the relevance of metabolism in understanding organismal physiology, behaviour, evolution, and responses to environmental change. The study of metabolism in aquatic organisms is experiencing an especially pronounced expansion, with more researchers utilizing intermittent-closed respirometry as a research tool than ever before. Despite this, there remain no published guidelines on the reporting of methodological details when using intermittent-closed respirometry. Using a survey of the existing literature, we show that this lack of recommendations has led to incomplete and inconsistent reporting of methods for intermittent-closed respirometry over the last several decades. We also provide the first guidelines for reporting such methods, in the form of a checklist of details that are the minimum required for the interpretation, evaluation, and replication of experiments using intermittent-closed respirometry. This should increase consistency of the reporting of methods for studies that use this research technique. With the steep increase in studies using intermittent-closed respirometry over the last several years, now is the ideal time to standardise the reporting of methods so that data can be properly assessed by other scientists and conservationists.


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We performed a survey of the literature to determine variation in the reporting of methods and the extent to which various criteria are (or are not) reported. Using Web of Science, we used the topic search term [fish AND ("standard metabolic rate" OR "resting metabolic rate" OR "routine metabolic rate") AND "maxim* metabolic rate"] in January 2021. This survey was not meant to be exhaustive but was meant to be representative of the methodological reporting across research using fish intermittent-closed respirometry as a whole. This search returned 120 research articles, which were then screened by reading titles and abstracts. Articles were excluded from further analysis if they were review articles, meta-analyses, or any other study that did not estimate metabolic rates using intermittent-closed respirometry. In addition, we excluded articles if they used flow-through respirometry or closed respirometry. Finally, to increase consistency in the criteria scored across studies, studies were only included in further analysis if they measured both SMR (or RMR) and MMR. This led to 72 studies being assessed (Table S1). Each study was scored for whether they satisfied each criterion in the checklist. Studies were awarded a point for a given criterion if they gave a clear, unambiguous description of that methodological detail, without the need for reader assumptions or calculations. Importantly, scores were not based on the quality of a methodology itself – they were simply based on whether a given detail was provided. For example, if a paper stated that the respirometer was made of Swiss cheese, the criterion “provide material of respirometer” (criterion 5; Table 1) would be considered satisfied and a point would be awarded, without judgement of whether Swiss cheese is an appropriate material for respirometer construction. Methodological details for specific criteria were considered present if they were provided in the main article text, figures, tables, supplementary material, or in references to previously published work. When there were references to multiple prior studies for a given criterion, a point was not given if those prior sources provided inconsistent or contradictory descriptions. In some cases, the absence of a specific criterion made it impossible to assess other associated criteria, in which case a value of NA was assigned to criteria that were unable to be scored, and those instances were not included in calculating the mean average score for that paper, or for calculating the mean prevalence of that criteria across papers. While most studies were evaluated by one scorer, eight studies were evaluated by two scorers each, ensuring consistency across scorers and allowing refinement of criteria phrasing to minimise ambiguity. For each article, we also recorded the title, first author, year of publication, and journal.