Developmental effects of heatwave conditions on the early life stages of a coral reef fish

Spinks, Rachel K., Munday, Philip L., and Donelson, Jennifer M. (2019) Developmental effects of heatwave conditions on the early life stages of a coral reef fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 222 (16).

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Marine heatwaves, which are increasing in frequency, duration and intensity owing to climate change, are an imminent threat to marine ecosystems. On coral reefs, heatwave conditions often coincide with periods of peak recruitment of juvenile fishes and exposure to elevated temperature may affect their development. However, whether differences in the duration of high temperature exposure have effects on individual performance is unknown. We exposed juvenile spiny damselfish, Acanthochromis poiyacanthus, to increasing lengths of time (3, 7, 30 and 108 days post-hatching) of elevated temperature (+2 degrees C). After 108 days, we measured escape performance at present-day control and elevated temperatures, standard length, mass and critical thermal maximum. Using a Bayesian approach, we show that 30 days or more exposure to +2 degrees C leads to improved escape performance, irrespective of performance temperature, possibly owing to developmental effects of high temperature on muscle development and/or anaerobic metabolism. Continued exposure to elevated temperature for 108 days caused a reduction in body size compared with the control, but not in fish exposed to high temperature for 30 days or less. By contrast, exposure to elevated temperatures for any length of time had no effect on critical thermal maximum, which, combined with previous work, suggests a short-term physiological constraint of similar to 37 degrees C in this species. Our study shows that extended exposure to increased temperature can affect the development of juvenile fishes, with potential immediate and future consequences for individual performance.

Item ID: 60458
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-9145
Keywords: Developmental plasticity, Climate change, Exposure duration, Escape response, Body size, Bayesian analysis
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: (C) The Company of Biologists
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included as Chapter 2 of the following PhD thesis: Spinks, Rachel K. (2021) Phenotypic plasticity to warming in coral reef fishes: the importance of sex and exposure timing within and between generations. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: KAUST CRG3 2278, ARC CE140100020, ARC FT130100505
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2019 07:44
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 1
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page