Coral Reefs

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 753–762

Climate change may affect fish through an interaction of parental and juvenile environments



Changes to tropical sea surface temperature and plankton communities are expected to occur over the next 100 years due to climate change. There is a limited understanding of how these environmental changes are likely to impact coral reef fishes, especially in terms of population replenishment through the quality of progeny produced. The present study investigated the effect that elevated sea water temperature and changes to food availability may have on the production of offspring by the reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus (Pomacentridae), as well as the performance of progeny in environments of varying food availability. An orthogonal design of three water temperatures and two food availabilities (high and low ration) was used, with water temperatures being the current-day average for the collection location (28.5 °C), +1.5 °C (30.0 °C) and +3.0 °C (31.5 °C), representing likely temperatures by 2100. Generally, an increase in the water temperature for adults resulted in a reduction in the size, weight and amount of yolk possessed by newly hatched offspring. Offspring whose parents were maintained under elevated temperature (30.0 °C high ration) had lower survival than offspring produced by parents at the current-day temperature (28.5 °C high ration) at 15 days post-hatching, but only when juveniles were reared under conditions of low food availability. In contrast, by 30 days post-hatching, the growth and condition of these offspring produced by parents held under elevated temperature (30.0 °C high ration) were the best of all treatment groups in all levels of juvenile food availability. This result illustrates the potential for initial parental effects to be modified by compensatory growth early in life (within 1 month) and that parental effects are not necessarily long lasting. These findings suggest that the performance of juvenile reef fish in future ocean conditions may not only depend on initial parental effects, but the interaction between their parentally mediated phenotype and their present food availability.


Compensatory growth Coral reef fish Food availability Temperature Parental effects Survival 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Donelson
    • 1
    • 2
  • P. L. Munday
    • 1
  • M. I. McCormick
    • 1
  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Climate Adaptation Flagship CSIROHobartAustralia

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