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Telomere dynamics in wild brown trout: effects of compensatory growth and early growth investment.

Authors: Joacim J. Näslund, Angela A. Pauliny, Donald D. Blomqvist, Jörgen I JI. Johnsson
Published: 02/20/2015, Oecologia


After a period of food deprivation, animals often respond with a period of faster than normal growth. Such responses have been suggested to result in decreased chromosomal maintenance, which in turn may affect the future fitness of an individual. Here, we present a field experiment in which a food deprivation period of 24 days was enforced on fish from a natural population of juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta) at the start of the high-growth season in spring. The growth of the food-deprived fish and a non-deprived control group was then monitored in the wild during 1 year. Fin tissue samples were taken at the start of the experiment and 1 year after food deprivation to monitor the telomere dynamics, using reduced telomere length as an indicator of maintenance cost. The food-deprived fish showed partial compensatory growth in both mass and length relative to the control group. However, we found no treatment effects on telomere dynamics, suggesting that growth-compensating brown trout juveniles are able to maintain their telomeres during their second year in the stream. However, body size at the start of the experiment, reflecting growth rate during their first year of life, was negatively correlated with change in telomere length over the following year. This result raises the possibility that rapid growth early in life induces delayed costs in cellular maintenance.

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