Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 377–406 | Cite as

The importance of parentage in assessing temperature effects on fish early life history: a review of the experimental literature

  • J. M. Burt
  • S. G. HinchEmail author
  • D. A. Patterson


Climate change and human development are altering aquatic thermal regimes, highlighting the need to understand how fish fitness may be impacted across a generational boundary. We reviewed experimental temperature studies investigating the links between parents and progeny, asking questions regarding the taxa studied, broodfish used, offspring traits examined, experimental durations and research motivations. We identified forty-one peer-reviewed articles examining the effects of pre-spawning adult temperature holding on offspring. These studies showed a strong focus on the order Salmoniformes (46% of studies) and aquaculturally driven research (66%). The use of wild broodfish was rare (12%) and the majority of experiments (83%) did not examine offspring consequences beyond hatch. We also identified 56 articles investigating how incubation temperature and parental influences affect embryonic and larval development. We demonstrate that these studies are not common in comparison to the majority of incubation thermal experiments that do not employ controlled parental breeding designs. However, 52 out of 56 studies we reviewed reported maternal, paternal or family identity influenced offspring responses to temperature. In characterizing these studies, Salmoniformes were the most studied order (52%), wild broodfish were more commonly used (55%), aquaculture motivations were less evident (23%), and few studies investigated offspring performance or traits beyond endogenous yolk stages. Overall, we suggest it is beneficial to experimentally examine temperature with consideration to parent-progeny relationships. To broaden our current understanding of intergenerational temperature effects, we recommend an increased focus on wild populations, offspring physiological and performance measures, later offspring development stages, and expanding research in non-salmonid species.


Climate change Early life history Intergenerational effects Parental influence Reproduction Temperature 



J.M. Burt was supported by a NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship and a UBC Faculty of Forestry Recruitment Fellowship. We would also like to thank the DFO Environmental Watch Program for support as well as Ken Jeffries and John Richardson for giving comments on an earlier manuscript version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory, Centre for Applied Conservation Research, Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch, Pacific Region, Cooperative Resource, Management Institute, School of Resource and Environmental ManagementSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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