Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 345–363 | Cite as

Microgeographic variation in metabolic rate and energy storage of brown trout: countergradient selection or thermal sensitivity?

  • David Álvarez
  • José M. Cano
  • Alfredo G. Nicieza
Research article


We examined the influence of habitat size, growth opportunity, and the thermal conditions experienced during early development on the standard metabolic rate (SMR) of juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta) from six natural populations to contrast the hypothesis of countergradient selection in metabolic rate. The study populations differed significantly in SMR. Population means for SMR changed in response to the temperature experienced during the yolk-absorption stage, when the risk of oxygen deficit increases and the vulnerability to hypoxia is highest. We also found a strong negative correlation between the temperature experienced during the first 2 months after yolk resorption and SMR, which supports the hypothesis of countergradient variation. Moreover, we detected a strong negative correlation between an index of growth opportunity and relative lipid content, suggesting that the risk of energy shortfall could be a major force in the evolution of storage strategies. Our results suggest that temperature can shape the evolution of metabolic rate during the yolk-absorptive stage or the first feeding stage, while energy storage levels may be more sensitive to thermal constraints acting on growth rates.


countergradient variation habitat size metabolic rate Salmo trutta starvation risk thermal stress 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Álvarez
    • 1
    • 2
  • José M. Cano
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alfredo G. Nicieza
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecology Unit, Department of Biology of Organisms and SystemsUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Department of Functional BiologyUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  3. 3.Department of Bio- and Environmental Sciences, Ecological Genetics Research UnitUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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