, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 210-219

First online:

Adaptive variation in energy acquisition and allocation among latitudinal populations of the Atlantic silverside

  • J. M. BillerbeckAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245, USA e-mail: jeanm@life.bio.sunysb.edu Fax: +1-516-6327626
  • , E. T. SchultzAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-3043, USA
  • , D. O. ConoverAffiliated withMarine Sciences Research Center, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000, USA

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Understanding the evolution of growth rate requires knowledge of the physiology of growth. This study explored the physiological basis of countergradient variation (CnGV) in somatic growth across latitudinal populations of the Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia. Energetics of northern (Nova Scotia, Canada) and southern (South Carolina, USA) genotypes were compared across resource levels, temperatures, and fish sizes to identify trade-offs to rapid growth. Offered unlimited resources, genotypes differed in both energy acquisition and allocation. Food consumption, growth, and efficiency of northern genotypes were consistently higher than in southern genotypes, across temperatures and body sizes. Feeding metabolism (specific dynamic action; SDA) was proportional to meal size, differing between genotypes to the extent that food consumption differed. Given limited resources, northern and southern genotypes displayed similar growth, efficiency, routine activity, and SDA across temperatures and fish sizes. Routine metabolism was equal at 17°C and 22°C, yet was significantly higher in northern fish at 28°C. Growth rates in M. menidia do not appear to trade off across environments or body sizes, i.e., at no temperature, ration, or size do southern fish outgrow northern conspecifics. Nor does submaximal growth result from increased costs of maintenance, tissue synthesis, or routine activity. Based on our findings, we propose that CnGV consumption and growth in M. menidia likely result from trade-offs with other energetic components, namely sustained and burst swimming.

Key words Countergradient variation Fish Growth Life history Energetics