Thermal and maternal environments shape the value of early hatching in a natural population of a strongly cannibalistic freshwater fish

T. Pagel, Dorte Bekkevold, S. Pohlmeier, C. Wolter, R. Arlinghaus

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Hatching early in the season is often assumed to elevate fitness, particularly in cannibalistic fish in which size-dependent predation mortality is a major selective force. While the importance of the thermal environment for the growth of fish is undisputed, the relevance of maternal effects for offspring growth in the wild is largely unknown. Otoliths of 366 age-0 pike (Esox lucius L.) were sampled in a natural lake over three seasons. All offspring were assigned to more than 330 potential mothers using 16 informative microsatellites. We found temperature and past maternal environment (as represented by juvenile growth rate), but not female total length, to jointly contribute to explain within- and among-season size variation in juvenile pike. While there was no statistical evidence for maternal effects on offspring growth rate, fast female juvenile growth positively correlated with the offspring length in early summer. One mechanism could be related to fast-growing females spawning somewhat earlier in the season. However, the more likely mechanism emerging in our study was that fast-growing females could have been in better condition prior to spawning, in turn possibly producing higher numbers of high-quality eggs. Our study is among the few to reveal carry-over effects related to past maternal environments on offspring performance in a naturally reproducing fish stock. At the same time, our study underscores recent arguments that size-dependent maternal effects may not be expressed in the wild and that early hatching does not generally produce size advantages in light of stochastically varying temperature conditions
Original languageEnglish
JournalOecologia
Volume178
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)951-965
ISSN0029-8549
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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