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Sensory and skeletal development and growth in relation to the duration of the embryonic and larval stages in damselfishes (Pomacentridae)

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Several trends were found in comparisons of rates of growth and development of larvae of four coral-reef damselfishes (Chromis atripectoralis, Pomacentrus amboinensis, Premnas biaculeatus, Acanthochromis polyacanthus), which were reared under constant temperature conditions in the laboratory, and which varied in their early life stage durations (respectively, egg stage durations were 2, 4, 7, 16; larval stage durations were 25, 23, 14, 0). Parameters measured included standard length, muscle area, eye diameter, and selected stages of retinal development, olfactory development, and skeletal ossification. Rates of ossification and olfactory development were inversely related to growth rate (in length and muscle area) among most species. Rates of eye growth and retinal development were also negatively correlated among all species. These results are consistent with the concept of a trade-off between growth and development. We observed a positive relationship between egg stage duration and developmental rate, and a negative correlation between larval stage duration and developmental rate. Acanthochromis developed slower than predicted by the general trends, although retinal development was very rapid. Specific retinal stages correlated with settlement, regardless of ontogenetic rates. Olfactory development was especially rapid in the anemonefish Premnas biaculeatus, which imprints to olfactory cues as an embryo. Skeletal ossification was rapid in species with pelagic larvae, and much slower in the benthic brooder. Literature-derived data on size and age at hatching and settlement from > 40 species of tropical pomacentrids were transformed into growth and developmental rates; correlations of these literature-derived parameters were mostly consistent with our controlled four-species comparison. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, The Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 80, 187−206.

Keywords: comparative ontogeny; eye; growth rates; olfactory; trade-offs

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Marine Biology and 2: School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia

Publication date: 2003-10-01

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