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Temperature preference and reproductive fitness of the annual killifish Austrofundulus limnaeus exposed to constant and fluctuating temperatures

Abstract

Austrofundulus limnaeus thrive in ephemeral ponds that may experience temperatures spanning a range of over 20°C on a daily basis. We hypothesized that A. limnaeus may have mechanisms, either behavioral or physiological, that allow them to support successful reproduction in this environment. To evaluate this hypothesis, we exposed male and female adult A. limnaeus to constant 26°C and cycling 21–37°C acclimation regimes in the laboratory and then determined their temperature preference and reproductive fitness. Temperature preference was determined using a thermal gradient. We demonstrated that A. limnaeus is capable of accurate behavioral thermoregulation, has a final thermal preferendum near 26°C, and exhibits a daily cycle of temperature preference. Exposure to a cycling temperature regime has an acute effect on thermal preference that differs between the sexes. Reproductive capability was negatively affected by the cyclic temperature exposure. These findings suggest that thermal partitioning between males and females may be a natural part of the ecology of A. limnaeus. In addition, it appears that behavioral thermoregulation, or partitioning of reproductive events to the cool parts of the thermoperiod, are likely to be critical to support successful reproduction in natural populations of A. limnaeus.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Helen Wallace for assistance with data analysis and quality assurance. We would also like to thank Zac Kohl for a couple of sleepless nights helping to maintain watch over the thermal gradient. This work was complies with the “Principles of animal care”, publication No. 86-23, revised 1985 of the National Institute of Health, and also with the current laws of the United State of America. This work was supported by NSF grant IOB—0344578 to J.E.P.

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Correspondence to Jason E. Podrabsky.

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Podrabsky, J.E., Clelen, D. & Crawshaw, L.I. Temperature preference and reproductive fitness of the annual killifish Austrofundulus limnaeus exposed to constant and fluctuating temperatures. J Comp Physiol A 194, 385–393 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-008-0313-7

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Keywords

  • Final thermal preferendum
  • Thermoregulation
  • Behavior
  • Acclimation
  • Temperature cycling