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The physiology of fishes in the early stages of development remains poorly assessed despite the importance of identifying energy bottlenecks in organisms faced with changing environmental conditions. This study describes the metabolic activity of dusky kob Argyrosomus japonicus throughout its early development, from hatchling to settlement stage. Standard, routine and active metabolic rates (SMR, RMR and AMR, respectively) were assessed to determine the species’ metabolic scope and identify how metabolism changes with growth and development. Distinct metabolic changes occurred in association with developmental changes during the early life stages, with flexion-stage larvae showing significantly reduced metabolic scope (approx. 0.30 μmol O2 ind.–1 h–1), representing an energy bottleneck. Based on these findings, it is likely that larvae of A. japonicus are most susceptible to environmental perturbations during flexion. The variability of metabolic rates during the diel cycle was also assessed and revealed that the early-stage larvae showed no preference for daylight, although settlement-stage juveniles were more active during daylight hours (RMR = 12.78 μmol O2 ind.–1 h–1) than at night (RMR = 5.87 μmol O2 ind.–1 h–1). These results suggest that metabolic measurements of the SMR of A. japonicus larvae can be taken at any time of the diel cycle until the settlement phase, when readings should take place at night.
Keywords: diurnal fluctuation, energetics, marine fish larvae, mass-specific metabolism, measurement protocols, oxygen consumption, physiology, respirometry