Rapid larval growth is costly for post-metamorphic thermal performance in a Great Barrier Reef fish

Carmen Da Silva, Robbie Stuart Wilson, Cynthia Riginos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Most marine fish species disperse during a planktonic larval stage where individuals exhibit variation in pelagic duration, growth rate and settlement size. Extreme predation risk is predicted to select for rapid growth rates and decreased pelagic duration as a strategy for increasing survival to settlement. How larval traits affect post-metamorphic performance, however, has been a contentious topic over the past 50 yrs. Some studies suggest that larval traits have carry-over effects to later life stages, where larval traits can be positively or negatively correlated with post-metamorphic performance. For example, individuals with rapid larval growth rates may settle at larger sizes and have faster post-metamorphic locomotion than slow-growing individuals. Alternatively, trade-offs between life stages might exist, where rapid larval growth rate may be negatively correlated with post-metamorphic locomotion, potentially due to energetic resource allocation trade-offs. In addition, other studies suggest that larval traits are decoupled from later life stages to allow for a transition in morphology and habitat. We tested how Bathygobius cocosensis hatch size, larval growth rates, settlement size and pelagic duration correlated with post-metamorphic thermal performance of burst swimming speed, routine metabolic rate and critical thermal maximum. We found that larval growth rate was negatively correlated with juvenile routine metabolic rate and burst swimming speed across a range of test temperatures. That is, fast-growing larvae had slower burst swimming speeds and lower routine metabolic rates across temperature as juveniles compared to slower-growing larvae. We also found that hatch size and pelagic larval duration were not correlated with post-metamorphic performance. Thus, we provide evidence both for larval traits having carry-over effects on later life stages and also for larval traits being decoupled with thermal performance post-metamorphosis. This is the first study to show that rapid larval growth rate is costly for post-metamorphic thermal performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-907
Number of pages13
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Development
  • Growth rate
  • Larval traits
  • Otolith
  • Pelagic larval duration
  • Thermal performance

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