Energy demand of larval and juvenile Cape horse mackerels, Trachurus capensis, and indications of hypoxia tolerance as benefit in a changing environment
Trachurus capensis is an important fisheries resource in the degraded Namibian upwelling ecosystem. Food supply and shoaling of hypoxic zones are hypothesised to influence the species’ recruitment success. This paper is the first to quantify energy requirements and hypoxia tolerance of larval and juvenile stages of a Trachurus species. We measured normoxic respiration rates of T. capensis with a size range from 0.001 to 20.8 g wet mass (WM) collected off Cape Town (33.9°S, 18.5°E, 12/2009) and in the northern Benguela (17–24°S, 11–15°E, 02/2011). Routine metabolic rate (RMR) and standard routine rate (SRR) (mg O2 h−1) followed the allometric functions RMR = 0.418 WM0.774 and SRR = 0.275 WM0.855, respectively. Larvae and juveniles had comparatively high metabolic rates, and the energy demand of juveniles at the upper end of the size range appeared too high to be fuelled by a copepod diet alone. T. capensis’ early life stages showed a high tolerance to hypoxic conditions. RMR in larvae did not change until 30 % O2sat at 18 °C. In juveniles, critical oxygen saturation levels were low (PC for SRR = 11.2 ± 1.7 % O2sat and PC for RMR = 13.2 ± 1.6 % O2sat at 20 °C) and oxy-regulation effective (regulation index = 0.78 ± 0.09). A high hypoxia tolerance may facilitate the retention of larvae in near-shore waters providing favourable feeding conditions and allowing juveniles to exploit food resources in the oxygen minimum zone. These mechanisms seem to well adapt T. capensis to a habitat affected by spreading hypoxic zones and probably enhance its recruitment success.