RECORD: Davy, J. 1854-5. Some Observations on the Ova of the Salmon, in Relation to the Distribution of Species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 7: 362-363.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by John van Wyhe, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data 8.2008. RN1


[page] 362

II. "Some Observations on the Ova of the Salmon, in relation to the distribution of Species; in a letter addressed to CHARLES DARWIN, Esq., M.A., V.P.R.S. &c." By JOHN DAVY, M.D., F.R.SS. Lond. & Edinb., Inspector-General of Army Hospitals. Received March 27, 1855.

In this paper the author describes a series of experiments on the ova of the Salmon, made with the intent of ascertaining their power of endurance under a variety of circumstances without loss of life, with the expectation suggested by Mr. Darwin, that the results might possibly throw some light on the geographical distribution of fishes.

The details of the experiments are given in five sections. The results obtained were the following:—

1. That the ova of the Salmon in their advanced stage can be exposed only for a short time to the air if dry, at ordinary temperatures, without loss of life; but for a considerable time if the temperature be low, and if the air be moist; the limit in the former case

[page] 363

not having exceeded an hour, whilst in the latter it has exceeded many hours.

2. That the vitality of the ova was as well preserved in air saturated with moisture, as it would have been had they been in water.

3. That the ova may be included in ice without loss of vitality, provided the temperature is not so low as to freeze them.

4. That the ova, and also the fry recently produced, can bear for some time a temperature of about 80° or 82° in water, without materially suffering; but not without loss of life, if raised above 84° or 85 °.

5. That the ova and young fry are speedily killed by a solution of common salt nearly of the specific gravity of sea-water, viz. 1026; and also by a weaker solution of specific gravity 1016.

Finally, in reference to the inquiry regarding the distribution of the species of fishes, he expresses his belief that some of the results may be of useful application, especially those given in the second and third sections; inferring, that as in moist air, the vitality of the ova is capable of being long sustained, they may during rain or fog be conveyed from one river or lake to another adhering to some part of an animal, such as a Heron or Otter, and also during a time of snow or frost; and, further, that other of the results may be useful towards determining the fittest age of ova for transport for the purpose of stocking rivers, and likewise as a help to explain the habitats, and some of the habits of the migratory species.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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