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The timing of spring warming shapes reproductive effort in a warm-water fish: the role of mismatches between hepatic and gonadal processes

Cite this dataset

Fernandes, Timothy J.; Shuter, Brian J.; Ihssen, Peter E; McMeans, Bailey C. (2022). The timing of spring warming shapes reproductive effort in a warm-water fish: the role of mismatches between hepatic and gonadal processes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Spring-spawning fishes native to northern environments rely on both increasing temperature and lengthening photoperiod to cue reproduction and may thus be particularly sensitive to rapid warming earlier in the year while day lengths remain short. We investigated the reproductive response of pumpkinseed sunfish Lepomis gibbosus to spring warming commencing at a range of day lengths (9 – 15 hours), corresponding to various calendar days (January 10 – May 22). In both the laboratory and field, both male and female fish that experienced early warming while day lengths were <11 hours: 1) failed to initiate reproductive preparation in the liver before gonad development began, and 2) had reduced reproductive allocation. Analysis of published data on temperate fishes suggested that liver development prior to gonad development is widespread across warm-, cool-, and cold-water thermal guilds, though the precise phenology of liver relative to gonad development appears to vary widely among species. Together, our results point toward dampened reproductive preparation as a novel mechanism mediating reduced reproductive output in both warm- and cool-water fish following earlier spring warming.


Data were collected from lethal samples of pumpkinseed either from laboratory experiments or field collections. All measurements were collected within 4 hours of fish euthanization. All euthanized fish were kept on ice and collected with appropriate animal care protocol approvals and animal collections permits (see manuscript for more information). The attached data file includes unprocessed raw data (organ and fish masses). Indices followed by a "1" (GSI1 = GSI; LSI1 = HSI) were calculated as indicated in the manuscript. Indices without a "1" were calculated without removing the mass of the indexed organ from fish wet weight (e.g., LSI = HSI = WETLIVWT / WETBODWT*100).

Usage notes

Organ masses (WETGONWT: gonad; WETLIVWT: liver) were recorded in milligrams and whole fish body masses are in grams. Male fish are coded as "1" and females are coded as "2." Fish length was recorded as fork length in millimetres. Ash weight and water content were inconsistently recorded so there are missing values throughout these columns. EXPTCD 11-17 contain data for experimental spring warming treatments, and EXPTCD 92-93 contain data for field collections. Other EXPTCD's were used to generate the figures in the Appendix and Figure S2 in the Supplementary Material, including data from fish held in large tanks over the course of the project (see README_DataDictionary). Please do not hesitate to reach out to the corresponding author if you have any questions!


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council