Consistency of differences in standard metabolic rate (SMR) between individual juvenile salmonids and the apparently limited ability of individuals to regulate their SMR has led many researchers to conclude that differences in individual SMR are fixed (i.e. genetic).2.
To test for the effects of food ration on individual performance and metabolism, SMR was estimated by measuring oxygen consumption using flow-through respirometry on individually separated young of the year coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) placed on varying food rations over a period of 44 days.3.
Results demonstrate that the quantity of food consumed directly affects SMR of juvenile coho salmon, independent of specific dynamic action (SDA, an elevation in metabolic rate from the increased energy demands associated with digestion immediately following a meal) and indicates that higher food consumption is a cause of elevated SMR rather than a consequence of it. Juvenile coho salmon therefore demonstrated an ability to regulate their SMR according to food availability and ultimately food consumption.4.
This study indicates that food consumption may play a pivotal role in understanding individual variation in SMR independent of inherent genetic differences. We suggest that studies involving SMR need to be cautious about the effects of intra-individual differences in food consumption in communal tanks or in different microhabitats in the wild as disproportionate food consumption may contribute more to variation in SMR than intrinsic (genetic) factors.5.
In general, our results suggest that evolutionary changes in SMR are likely a response to selection on food consumption and growth, rather than SMR itself.