Latitudinal variation in fitness-related traits has often been attributed to local adaptation to climates. In poikilotherms including fishes, lower temperatures and shorter reproductive seasons at high latitudes would be expected to cause a reduction in annual reproductive output of an individual. Theories of latitudinal compensation predict that organisms at high latitudes should evolve compensatory responses for these climatic effects. Therefore, latitudinal compensation in female reproductive rate (egg production rate), that individuals from high latitudes produce eggs at higher rates than those from lower latitudes, is likely to occur. I tested this hypothesis with a latitudinally widespread reef fish Pomacentrus coelestis that is a multiple batch spawner, from three different localities, from temperate to subtropical waters, within Japan. I used common-environment experiments at three different temperatures to compare reproductive capacity among local populations. In the experiments, average inter-spawning intervals were the shortest and average size-specific clutch weight was the heaviest in fish from the most northern locality across all temperatures, showing clear latitudinal clines. Thus, the northern fish can achieve higher reproductive output per unit time both by shortening inter-spawning intervals and increasing size-specific clutch weight. Additionally, faster egg production rate of the northern fish did not result from increased food consumption. This finding suggests that gross egg production efficiency was higher in the northern fish and that northern fish had a superior capacity for reproduction within a season. These results support the prediction that latitudinal compensation occurs in the female reproductive rate of P. coelestis. As the reproductive season of this species decreases drastically with increasing latitude, the observed cline in the reproductive rate must be an adaptive response to the local selective regime, i.e., length of the reproductive season. Such latitudinal compensation in female reproductive rates may be a common pattern in latitudinally widespread fishes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science