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Limited capacity for faster digestion in larval coral reef fish at an elevated temperature


McLeod, IM and Clark, TD, Limited capacity for faster digestion in larval coral reef fish at an elevated temperature, PLoS ONE, 11, (5) Article e0155360. ISSN 1932-6203 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 McLeod, Clark Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155360


The prevalence of extreme, short-term temperature spikes in coastal regions during summer months is predicted to increase with ongoing climate change. In tropical systems, these changes are predicted to increase the metabolic demand of coral reef fish larvae while also altering the plankton communities upon which the larvae feed during their pelagic phase. The consequences of these predictions remain speculative in the absence of empirical data on the interactive effects of warm temperatures on the metabolism, postprandial processes and growth responses of coral reef fish larvae. Here, we tested the effect of increased temperature on the metabolism, postprandial performance and fine-scale growth patterns of a coral reef fish (Amphiprion percula) in the latter half of its ∼11-d larval phase. First, we measured the length and weight of fed versus fasted larvae (N = 340; mean body mass 4.10.05 mg) across fine temporal scales at a typical current summer temperature (28.5C) and a temperature that is likely be encountered during warm summer periods later this century (31.5C). Second, we measured routine metabolic rate (Mo2 routine) and the energetics of the postprandial processes (i.e., digestion, absorption and assimilation of a meal; termed specific dynamic action (SDA)) at both temperatures. Larvae fed voraciously when provided with food for a 12-hour period and displayed a temperature-independent increase in mass of 40.1% (28.5C) and 42.6% (31.5C), which was largely associated with the mass of prey in the gut. A subsequent 12-h fasting period revealed that the larvae had grown 21.24.8% (28.5C) and 22.88.8% (31.5C) in mass and 10.32.0% (28.5C) and 7.82.6% (31.5C) in length compared with pre-feeding values (no significant temperature effect). Mo2 routine was 5516% higher at 31.5C and peak Mo2 during the postprandial period was 2811% higher at 31.5C, yet elevated temperature had no significant effect on SDA (0.510.06 J at 28.5C vs. 0.530.07 J at 31.5C), SDA duration (6.00.6 h vs. 6.50.5 h), or the percent of total meal energy used for SDA (SDA coefficient: 10.11.3% vs. 13.01.7%). Our findings of higher Mo2 routine but similar SDA coefficient at high temperature provide the first empirical evidence that coral reef fish larvae may have to secure more food to attain similar growth rates during warm summer periods, and perhaps with chronically warmer conditions associated with climate change.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:digestion, coral reef fish, metabolic rate, specific dynamic action, SDA
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiological ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Clark, TD (Dr Timothy Clark)
ID Code:110539
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2016-08-01
Last Modified:2018-04-13
Downloads:111 View Download Statistics

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