Convictfish on the move: variation in growth and trophic niche space along a latitudinal gradient

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Oxford Academic
The range expansion of tropical fish into temperate waters is increasing markedly in response to climate change. Range-expanding fish encounter novel diets and environments, but we know little about how these conditions facilitate or hinder distribution shifts. Here, we quantified relative growth rate, morphometric condition and trophic niche of juvenile Acanthurus triostegus, a dominant range-expanding tropical surgeonfish, at four locations across 10° of latitude off eastern Australia. We related these metrics to differences in temperature and nutritional quality of dominant seaweeds and the epilithic algal matrix. Temperate food sources were richer in nitrogen than tropical diets. Stable isotope analysis (δ13 carbon and δ15 nitrogen) of fish muscle revealed a large trophic niche breadth at the highest latitude indicating a generalist foraging strategy, and more nitrogen-enriched isotopic signatures compared to tropical regions. Fish length was strongly correlated to δ13C in all regions, suggesting an ontogenetic shift in diet independent of latitude. Despite temperature differences of 4°C, fish growth and body condition were similar across tropical and temperate regions. These results suggest that more nutritious temperate diets may compensate for the effects of cooler water temperatures. Neither summer water temperatures nor dietary factors appear to limit the success of juvenile tropical vagrants as they continue to expand their range along eastern Australia. © 2019 ICES/CIEM
Fisheries, Climatic change, Water, Australia, Fishes, Temperate zones, Nutrition, Growth
Miranda, T., Smith, J. A., Suthers, I. M., Mazumder, D., Cruz, D. O., Schilling, H. T., Searle, K., & Vergés, A. (2019). Convictfish on the move: variation in growth and trophic niche space along a latitudinal gradient. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76(7), 2404-2412. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsz098