Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Meeting
Maternal effects on offspring facilitated though environmental factors can provide insight to the response of organisms to global climate change. A maternal effect occurs when environmental factors affecting mothers influence offspring phenotype, independent of their genotype or the environment into which they are released. Such effects are referred to as transgenerational phenotypic plasticity. In this study we examined maternal effects induced by temperature on the larvae of the scleractinian coral Pocillopora damicornis in Nanwan Bay, Taiwan. Specifically we tested the hypothesis that colonies exposed to high temperature displayed different reproductive traits and released dissimilar larvae compared to colonies at a lower temperature. Eight colonies were incubated for 16 d at ambient (27.13°C) and elevated (29.65°C) temperature and the outcome assessed as colony−level fecundity, timing of larval release, and energy content of larvae. Colony−level fecundity was affected significantly by temperature, with fecundity increasing 52 % at high compared to ambient temperature, and colonies in warmer conditions releasing larvae earlier (1 d) than colonies at ambient temperature. The energy content of larvae also was affected by the temperatures under which the parents were retained, with energy content 34 % lower in larvae released from colonies held at 29.65°C. Our results show for P. damicornis that the thermal environment affecting maternal colonies can influence reproduction and larval phenotypes in ways that could affect offspring success.
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