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The influence of temperature during early life on phenotypic expression at later ontogenetic stages in sea bass

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To exam whether the temperature experienced by fishes at early developmental stages can influence their phenotype at subsequent stages, the model species used, European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax was subjected to water temperatures of 15 or 20° C during the half-epiboly stage until the metamorphosis. Meristic and morphometric characters at three different stages, well after the end of the thermal treatments, were explored. Body shape and most of the meristic characters were significantly affected by the environmental temperature during their early life stages. Fish body shape at 15° C tended to be more slender than at 20° C. The dorsal spines and soft rays, the pectoral lepidotrichia and caudal dermatotrichia were significantly affected. Phenotypic differences due to the two thermal regimes are discussed in terms of their functional meaning during the transition from the planktonic to the littoral niche.

Keywords: Dicentrarchus labrax; early life history; meristics; morphometrics; phenotypic plasticity; temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, University of Patras, 26500 Rio, Patras, Greece 2: Biology Department, University of Crete, 71409 Heraklio, Crete, Greece 3: Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Institute of Aquaculture, P. O. Box 2214, 71003 Heraklio, Crete, Greece

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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