In ectotherms, lower temperatures in high-latitude environments would theoretically reduce the annual growth rates of individuals. If slower growth and resultant smaller body size reduce fitness, individuals in higher latitudes may evolve compensatory responses. Two alternative models of such latitudinal compensation are possible: Model I: thermal reaction norms for growth rates of high-latitude individuals may be horizontally shifted to a lower range of temperatures, or Model II: reaction norms may be vertically shifted so that high-latitude individuals can grow faster across all temperatures. Model I is expected when annual growth rates in the wild are only a function of environmental temperatures, whereas Model II is expected when individuals in higher latitudes can only grow during a shorter period of a year. A variety of mixed strategies of these two models are also possible, and the magnitude of horizontal versus vertical variation in reaction norms among latitudinal populations will be indicative of the importance of “temperature” versus “seasonality” in the evolution of latitudinal compensation. However, the form of latitudinal compensation may be affected by possible genetic constraints due to the genetic architecture of reaction norms. In this study, we examine the inter- and intrapopulation variations in thermal reaction norms for growth rate of the medaka fish Oryzias latipes. Common-environment experiments revealed that average reaction norms differed primarily in elevation among latitudinal populations in a manner consistent with Model II (adaptation to “seasonality”), suggesting that natural selection in high latitudes prefers individuals that grow faster even within a shorter growing season to individuals that have longer growing seasons by growing at lower temperatures. However, intrapopulation variation in reaction norms was also vertical: some full-sibling families grew faster than others across all temperatures examined. This tendency in intrapopulation genetic variation for thermal reaction norms may have restricted the evolution of latitudinal compensation, irrespective of the underlying selection pressure.
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