Several recent studies have demonstrated that rapid growth early in life leads to decreased physiological performance. Nearly all involved experiments over short time periods (<1 day) to control for potentially confounding effects of size. This approach, however, neglects the benefits an individual accrues by growing. The net effect of growth can only be evaluated over a longer interval in which rapidly growing individuals are allowed the time required to attain the expected benefits of large size. We used two populations of Menidia menidia with disparate intrinsic growth rates to address this issue. We compared growth and survivorship among populations subject to predation in mesocosms under ambient light and temperature conditions for a period of up to 30 days to address two questions: Do the growth rates of fish in these populations respond differently to the presence of predators? Is the previously demonstrated survival cost of growth counterbalanced by the benefits of increased size? We found that growth was insensitive to predation risk: neither population appeared to modify growth rates in response to predation levels. Moreover, the fast-growing population suffered significantly higher mortality throughout the trials despite being 40% larger than the slow-growing population at the experiment's end. These results confirm that the costs of rapid growth extend over prolonged intervals and are not ameliorated merely by the attainment of large size.
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Vol. 57 • No. 9