James’s rule and causes and consequences of a latitudinal cline in the demography of John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) in coastal waters of Australia
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Demographic parameters were derived from sectioned otoliths of John’s Snapper (Lutjanus johnii) from 4 regions across 9° of latitude and 23° of longitude in northern Australia. Latitudinal variation in size and growth rates of this species greatly exceeded longitudinal variation. Populations of John’s Snapper farthest from the equator had the largest body sizes, in line with James’s rule, and the fastest growth rates, contrary to the temperaturesize rule for ectotherms. A maximum age of 28.6 years, nearly 3 times previous estimates, was recorded and the largest individual was 990 mm in fork length. Females grew to a larger mean asymptotic fork length (L8) than did males, a fi nding consistent with functional gonochorism. Otolith weight at age and gonad weight at length followed the same latitudinal trends seen in length at age. Length at maturity was ~72–87% of and varied by ~23% across the fll latitudinal gradient, but age at irst maturity was consistently in the range of 6–10 years, indicating that basic growth trajectories were similar across vastly different environments. We discuss both the need for complementary reproductive data in age-based studies and the insights gained from experiments where the concept of oxygen- and capacity-limited thermal tolerance is applied to explain the mechanistic causes of James’s rule in tropicalfish species.
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