Size at hatching and planktonic growth determine post-settlement survivorship of a coral reef fish
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Coral reef fishes, like many marine organisms, have a complex life history that consists of a planktonic larvae stage and a benthic juvenile or adult stage. We used the growth records in the otoliths of a common damselfish to investigate the extent to which processes in the plankton determined the outcome of events after benthic settlement. Sequential samples of the same cohort showed that individuals that survived intense selective mortality 1–3 months after settlement were those fish that were the larger members of the cohort at hatching and grew faster during planktonic life. Such links between life history phases are likely to occur in reef fishes whenever there is selection for a trait that is cumulative, such as size. They may not only operate between life history stages in the same individuals, but even between those of different generations via maternal effects on size at hatching.
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