Parents exposed to warming produce offspring lower in weight and condition

Spinks, Rachel K., Donelson, Jennifer M., Bonzi, Lucrezia C., Ravasi, Timothy, and Munday, Philip L. (2022) Parents exposed to warming produce offspring lower in weight and condition. Ecology and Evolution, 12 (7). e9044.

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The parental environment can alter offspring phenotypes via the transfer of non-genetic information. Parental effects may be viewed as an extension of (within-generation) phenotypic plasticity. Smaller size, poorer physical condition, and skewed sex ratios are common responses of organisms to global warming, yet whether parental effects alleviate, exacerbate, or have no impact on these responses has not been widely tested. Further, the relative non-genetic influence of mothers and fathers and ontogenetic timing of parental exposure to warming on offspring phenotypes is poorly understood. Here, we tested how maternal, paternal, and biparental exposure of a coral reef fish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to elevated temperature (+1.5°C) at different ontogenetic stages (development vs reproduction) influences offspring length, weight, condition, and sex. Fish were reared across two generations in present-day and projected ocean warming in a full factorial design. As expected, offspring of parents exposed to present-day control temperature that were reared in warmer water were shorter than their siblings reared in control temperature; however, within-generation plasticity allowed maintenance of weight, resulting in a higher body condition. Parental exposure to warming, irrespective of ontogenetic timing and sex, resulted in decreased weight and condition in all offspring rearing temperatures. By contrast, offspring sex ratios were not strongly influenced by their rearing temperature or that of their parents. Together, our results reveal that phenotypic plasticity may help coral reef fishes maintain performance in a warm ocean within a generation, but could exacerbate the negative effects of warming between generations, regardless of when mothers and fathers are exposed to warming. Alternatively, the multigenerational impact on offspring weight and condition may be a necessary cost to adapt metabolism to increasing temperatures. This research highlights the importance of examining phenotypic plasticity within and between generations across a range of traits to accurately predict how organisms will respond to climate change.

Item ID: 75649
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: climate change, coral reef fish, maternal effects, ontogenetic timing, paternal effects, transgenerational plasticity
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2022 09:03
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 50%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 50%
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