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Ecosystem heating experiment reveals sex-specific growth responses in fish

van Dorst, Renee M.; Gardmark, Anna; Kahilainen, Kimmo K.; Nurminen, Leena; Estlander, Satu; Huuskonen, Hannu; Olin, Mikko; Rask, Martti; Huss, Magnus


Size-specific body growth responses to warming are common among animal taxa, but sex-specific responses are poorly known. Here we ask if body growth responses to warming are sex-dependent, and if such sex-specific responses vary with size and age. This was tested with sex-specific data of back-calculated individual growth trajectories, in European perch (Perca fluviatilis) from a long-term whole-ecosystem warming experiment (6.3 C above the surrounding sea). Warming led to both size- and sex-specific differences in growth responses. Warming had a consistent positive effect on body growth of females, but negative effects on male growth at size > 10 cm and age > 2 years. These sex-specific growth responses translate to an increased degree of female-biased sexual size dimorphism (in length-at-age) with warming. Although the exact temperature-mediated effects underlying differential growth responses could not be resolved, results imply global warming may have highly different effects during ontogeny of male and female perch. Such effects should be considered in climate warming scenarios concerning fish growth, population size-structure, and dynamics of aquatic food webs that include fish exhibiting sexual size dimorphism.


body size; climate change; female; male; fish; temperature

Publicerad i

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
2024, Volym: 81, nummer: 1, sidor: 90–96