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Oecologia. 2007 May;152(2):219-25. Epub 2007 Jan 23.

Temperature-induced shifts in selective pressure at a critical developmental transition.

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Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.


Selective mortality within a population, based on the phenotype of individuals, is the foundation of the theory of natural selection. We examined temperature-induced shifts in the relationships among early life history traits and survivorship over the embryonic and larval stages of a tropical damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis. Our experiments show that temperature determines the intensity of selective mortality, and that this changes with ontogeny. The size of energy stores determined survival through to hatching, after which egg size became a good indicator of fitness as predicted by theoretical models. Yet, the benefits associated with egg size were not uniform among test temperatures. Initial egg size positively influenced larval survival at control temperature (29 degrees C). However, this embryonic trait had no effect on post-hatching longevity of individuals reared at the higher (31 degrees C) and lower (25 degrees C) end of the temperature range. Overall, our findings indicate that the outcome of selective mortality is strongly dependent on the interaction between environment conditions and intrinsic developmental schedules.

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