Larval history influences post-metamorphic condition in a coral-reef fish

Hamilton, S. L. (2008). Larval history influences post-metamorphic condition in a coral-reef fish. Oecologia, 158(3), 449-461.
TitleLarval history influences post-metamorphic condition in a coral-reef fish
AuthorsL. Hamilton
AbstractUpon settlement, many Wshes undergo an energetically costly metamorphic period that requires substantial nutritional reserves. Larval growth and the accumulation of lipids prior to metamorphosis are likely to infuence growth and survival following this critical period. On the Caribbean island of St. Croix, I investigated relationships between larval growth, early life-history characteristics, and post-metamorphic lipid content in the bluehead wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum. Lipid reserves remaining after metamorphosis were positively related (r2 = 0.62) to the width of the metamorphic band; thus, this otolith-derived trait may be used to estimate the condition at emergence of survivors collected at some later time. In contrast, pelagic larval duration, average larval growth, and otolith size at settlement were negatively related to postmetamorphic lipid content. Interestingly, the trend for slower growth among fish in good condition was not consistent over the entire pelagic larval duration. Analyses of daily larval growth histories indicated that Wsh with high lipid reserves grew rapidly in the last week prior to settlement, but relatively slowly during the early phases of larval life; those emerging with low lipid concentrations, however, displayed strikingly opposite patterns. These contrasting patterns of growth and energy storage were consistent at two sites and over three recruitment events. Otolith chemistry data suggested that diVerences in growth histories and body condition were consistent with the hypothesis of larval development in distinct oceanic environments (characterized by Pb concentration); but, within a water mass, differences reflected life-history trade-offs between growth and energy storage. The results have implications for understanding the processes driving juvenile survival, which may be condition dependent.
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End page461