Metabolic Cold Adaptation and Developmental Elasticity in Metabolic Rates Among Species in the Fundulus notatus Species Complex
P>1. In ectotherms, temperature and body size are the most influential and well studied variables affecting metabolic rate. Understanding mechanisms driving the evolution of metabolic rates is crucial to broader ecological theory. The metabolic cold adaptation hypothesis (MCA) makes predictions about the evolution of ectotherm metabolic rates and temperature-metabolic rate reaction norms. 2. We examined intra and interspecific patterns in metabolic rate among populations in the Fundulus notatus species group (F. notatus, F. olivaceus and F. euryzonus). We ask if patterns of intra and interspecific variability in metabolic rate are consistent with the MCA and if metabolic rates in general are developmentally plastic. 3. Support for the MCA was mixed among intra and interspecific tests. The northern population of F. olivaceus had increased metabolic rate and no difference in temperature sensitivity (slope of temperature-metabolic rate reaction norm). Northern populations of F. notatus had lower temperature sensitivity and no difference in overall metabolic rate. The southern coastal drainage endemic (F. euryzonus) had intermediate metabolic rates compared to southern populations of the other two more broadly distributed species. Metabolic rates were also developmentally plastic. Adults reared at warmer temperatures had lower metabolic rates after accounting for body size and temperature. 4. Differences in thermal regimes explain some variability in metabolic rates among populations consistent with MCA. However, interspecific comparisons are not consistent with MCA and are likely influenced by species differences in ecology and life history strategies.