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Latitudinal variation in larval development of coral reef fishes: implications of a warming ocean


McLeod, IM and McCormick, MI and Munday, PL and Clark, TD and Wenger, AS and Brooker, RM and Takahashi, M and Jones, GP, Latitudinal variation in larval development of coral reef fishes: implications of a warming ocean, Marine Ecology Progress Series, 521 pp. 129-141. ISSN 0171-8630 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Inter-Research

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps11136


Latitudinal gradients in water temperature may be useful for predicting the likely responses of marine species to global warming. The ranges of coral reef fishes extend into the warmest oceanic waters on the planet, but the comparative life-history traits across their full latitudinal range are unknown. Here, we examined differences in early life-history traits of 2 coral reef fishes, the damselfish Pomacentrus moluccensis and the wrasse Halichoeres melanurus, among 8 locations across 21 of latitude, from northern Papua New Guinea (2.3S) to the southern Great Barrier Reef (23.3S). Water temperature during larval development ranged between 25.6 and 29.8C among sites, with the warmest sites closest to the equator. Recently settled juveniles were collected and otolith microstructure was analysed to estimate pelagic larval duration (PLD), daily growth, and size at settlement. Latitudinal comparisons revealed a non-linear relationship between temperature and each of PLD, larval growth and size at settlement. PLD declined with increasing temperature up to approx. 28 to 29C, above which it stabilised in P. moluccensis and increased in H. melanurus. Larval growth increased with increasing temperature up to approx. 28to 29C before stabilising in P. moluccensis and decreasing in H. melanurus. Size at settlement tended to be highest at mid-latitudes, but overall declined with increasing temperature above 28.5C in both species. These results indicate that the thermal optima for growth and development is reached or surpassed at low latitudes, such that populations at these latitudes may be particularly vulnerable to global warming.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, growth rate, life history plasticity, latitudinal comparison, lemon damselfish, pelagic larval duration, tail-spot wrasse, thermal reaction norm
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal behaviour
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Coastal or estuarine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Clark, TD (Dr Timothy Clark)
ID Code:103265
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-09-30
Last Modified:2018-03-15

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