Evol Ecol Res 14: 769-777 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Metabolic scope of fish species increases with distributional range

Daniel E. Naya1 and Francisco Bozinovic2

1Departamento de Ecología y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay and  2Departamento de Ecología & LINC-Global, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Correspondence: D.E. Naya, Sección Evolución, Universidad de la República, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay.
e-mail: dnaya@fcien.edu.uy


Background: Current models aimed at predicting the effect of climate change on future species distributions assume that all populations of a species are an undifferentiated collection of individuals with each individual having a tolerance range equal to that of the entire species. This assumption overestimates a species’ ability to cope with climate change, but data to support better models are available only for a few species with commercial value. An alternative to detailed studies of intra-specific variation in plasticity is to identify global patterns in phenotypic plasticity. One such pattern may be the climatic variability hypothesis (CVH), which states that physiological flexibility should increase with climatic variability, and thus with latitude.

Goal: Evaluate the latitudinal pattern predicted by the climatic variability hypothesis.

Definitions: Routine metabolic rate (RMR) is the daily metabolic rate of an individual. Standard metabolic rate (SMR) is the minimum metabolic rate needed to sustain life processes at a given temperature. (Typically, RMR is nearly twice SMR.) Let metabolic scope (i.e. RMR − SMR) be a measure of physiological flexibility (see Naya et al., 2012).

Methods: Download mass- and temperature-independent SMR and RMR for 38 fish species from the FishBase. Regress the metabolic scope of species against their body length, trophic position, distributional mid-point, distributional range, maximum depth, environmental temperatures, and thermal range within the distributional area.

Results: Metabolic scope was positively correlated with species’ distributional range and marginally correlated with the thermal range within species’ distributional area.

Conclusion: Given the pattern of variation in climatic variability with latitude in aquatic ecosystems, we expected that physiological flexibility in aquatic organisms should be closely related with species’ distributional range rather than with latitudinal distributional mid-point, as was indeed the case for metabolic scope.

Keywords: climatic variability hypothesis, macrophysiology, metabolic rate, phenotypic plasticity, physiological flexibility.

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