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Thermally induced phenotypic plasticity of swimming performance in European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax juveniles

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The vulnerability of embryonic and larval stages of European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax to environmental temperature and the longer-term consequences for the early juveniles was demonstrated. This phenotypic plasticity was highlighted by subjecting D. labrax at 15·2 ± 0·3 or 20·0 ± 0·4° C (mean ±s.d.) up to metamorphosis and then at the same temperature (18·5 ± 0·7° C). After 4–6 weeks at the same temperature, the measurement of critical swimming speed at four exercise temperatures (15, 20, 25 and 28° C) showed a significantly higher swimming capacity in the fish initially reared at 15° C than for fish initially reared at 20° C. This performance was correlated with significant differences in the phenotype of red muscle. Thermally induced phenotypic plasticity was clearly demonstrated as an important mechanism controlling swimming performance in early juveniles of D. labrax.

Keywords: critical swimming speed; ontogeny; red muscle; water temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Department of Veterinary Basic Science, The Royal Veterinary College, London NW1 0TU, England, U.K. 2: Department of Biology, University of Crete, 71409 Heraklion, Crete, Greece 3: Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Institute of Aquaculture, P. O. Box 2214, 71003 Heraklion, Crete, Greece

Publication date: April 1, 2009


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