Comparison of early life-stage strategies in temperate freshwater fish species: trade-offs are directed towards first feeding of larvae in spring and early summer
Based on the analysis of 12 egg and larval variables and temperature of 65 temperate freshwater fish species, the possible relationships between oocyte diameter, larval size at hatch, time and temperature were reassessed and the main early life-stage strategies were described and compared. Time and degree-days required to reach hatching and mixed feeding were weakly related to oocyte diameter and strongly to temperature. These results are chiefly because oocyte diameter and yolk reserves are weakly related and temperature strongly increases tissue differentiation rate, activity of hatching glands and embryo motility. Strong positive relationships were found between larval size and oocyte diameter and degree-days for incubation. No relationship was found between larval size and degree-days from hatching to mixed feeding and between degree-days for incubation and degree-days from hatching to mixed feeding. These last two results are chiefly because the developmental stages at hatching and at the onset of exogenous feeding are not fixed in ontogeny and are not directly related to either larval size or degree-days for incubation, but more probably are species specific. Whatever the spawning season, which can occur almost all year long, the different trade-offs at the early life-stages ensure that most larvae are first feeding during spring, when food size and abundance are the most appropriate.