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Elevated temperature restricts growth potential of the coral reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus


In order to test the effect of temperature variation on the growth of a common coral-reef fish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, juveniles, sub-adults and adults were reared on either high or low food rations at temperatures corresponding to the long-term (14 year) minimum, average and maximum summer sea-surface temperatures (26, 28 and 31°C respectively) at Orpheus Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Both temperature and food supply affected the growth of juvenile and adult A. polyacanthus. Individuals grew more on high food rations, but growth declined with increasing temperature. Importantly, at 31°C, the growth of juveniles and adults on the high food ration was nearly identical to growth on the low food ration. This indicates that the capacity for growth is severely limited at higher ocean temperatures that are predicted to become the average for Orpheus Island within the next 100 years as a result of rapid climate change.

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We thank Reef HQ for supplying fish, JCU/AIMS weather facility for the sea-temperature records, MARFU staff for assistance with the experiments and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the ms.

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Correspondence to P. L. Munday.

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Communicated by Biology Editor Dr Mark McCormick

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Munday, P.L., Kingsford, M.J., O’Callaghan, M. et al. Elevated temperature restricts growth potential of the coral reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus . Coral Reefs 27, 927–931 (2008).

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  • Climate change
  • Temperature
  • Growth
  • Food supply