Large birth size does not reduce negative latent effects of harsh environments across life stages in two coral species

TitleLarge birth size does not reduce negative latent effects of harsh environments across life stages in two coral species
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHartmann A.C, Marhaver KL, Chamberland V.F, Sandin SA, Vermeij MJA
Date Published2013/09
ISBN Number0012-9658
Accession NumberWOS:000324532900010

 When juveniles must tolerate harsh environments early in life, the  disproportionate success of certain phenotypes across multiple early  life stages will dramatically influence adult community composition and  dynamics. In many species, large offspring have a higher tolerance for  stressful environments than do smaller conspecifics (parental effects).  However, we have a poor understanding of whether the benefits of  increased parental investment carry over after juveniles escape harsh  environments or progress to later life stages (latent effects). To  investigate whether parental effects and latent effects interactively  influence offspring success, we determined the degree to which latent  effects of harsh abiotic conditions are mediated by offspring size in  two stony coral species. Larvae of both species were sorted by size  class and exposed to relatively high-temperature or low-salinity  conditions. Survivorship was quantified for six days in these stressful  environments, after which surviving larvae were placed in ambient  conditions and evaluated for their ability to settle and metamorphose.  We subsequently assessed long-term post-settlement survival of one  species in its natural environment. Following existing theory, we  expected that, within and between species, larger offspring would have a  higher tolerance for harsh environmental conditions than smaller  offspring. We found that large size did enhance offspring performance in  each species. However, large offspring size within a species did not  reduce the proportional, negative latent effects of harsh larval  environments. Furthermore, the coral species that produces larger  offspring was more, not less, prone to negative latent effects. We  conclude that, within species, large offspring size does not increase  resistance to latent effects. Comparing between species, we conclude  that larger offspring size does not inherently confer greater  robustness, and we instead propose that other life history  characteristics such as larval duration better predict the tolerance of  offspring to harsh and variable abiotic conditions. Additionally, when  considering how stressful environments influence offspring performance,  studies that only evaluate direct effects may miss crucial downstream  (latent) effects on juveniles that have significant consequences for  long-term population dynamics.


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