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For young fishes, growth of somatic tissues and energy reserves are critical steps for survival and progressing to subsequent life stages. When thermal regimes become supraoptimal, routine metabolic rates increase and leave less energy for young fish to maintain fitness-based activities and, in the case of anadromous fishes, less energy to prepare for emigration to coastal habitats. Thus, understanding how energy allocation strategies are affected by thermal regimes in young anadromous fish will help to inform climate-ready management of vulnerable species and their habitat. Blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) are an anadromous fish species that remain at historically low population levels and are undergoing southern edge-range contraction, possibly due to climate change. We examined the effects of temperature (21°C, 24°C, 27°C, 30°C, 33°C) on survival, growth rate and energy reserves of juveniles collected from the mid-geographic range of the species. We identified a strong negative relationship between temperature and growth rate, resulting in smaller juveniles at high temperatures. We observed reduced survival at both 21°C and 33°C, increased fat and lean mass-at-length at high temperatures, but no difference in energy density. Juveniles were both smaller and contained greater scaled energy reserves at higher temperatures, indicating growth in length is more sensitive to temperature than growth of energy reserves. Currently, mid-geographic range juvenile blueback herring populations may be well suited for local thermal regimes, but continued warming could decrease survival and growth rates. Blueback herring populations may benefit from mitigation actions that maximize juvenile energy resources by increasing the availability of cold refugia and food-rich habitats, as well as reducing other stressors such as hypoxic zones.
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Guo, Lian W.; Jordaan, Adrian; Schultz, Eric T.; and McCormick, Stephen D., "Identification of supraoptimal temperatures in juvenile blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) using survival, growth rate and scaled energy reserves" (2022). Conservation Physiology. 2.