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Keywords:

  • age and size at metamorphosis;
  • age and size at settlement;
  • costs;
  • genetic correlations;
  • genetic variability;
  • marine bivalve molluscs;
  • metamorphosis;
  • oysters;
  • settlement;
  • trade-offs

Abstract

We investigated genetic variability and genetic correlations in early life-history traits of Crassostrea gigas. Larval survival, larval development rate, size at settlement and metamorphosis success were found to be substantially heritable, whereas larval growth rate and juvenile traits were not. We identified a strong positive genetic correlation between larval development rate and size at settlement, and argue that selection could optimize both age and size at settlement. However, trade-offs, resulting in costs of metamorphosing early and large, were suggested by negative genetic correlations or covariances between larval development rate/size at settlement and both metamorphosis success and juvenile survival. Moreover, size advantage at settlement disappeared with time during the juvenile stage. Finally, we observed no genetic correlations between larval and juvenile stages, implying genetic independence of life-history traits between life-stages. We suggest two possible scenarios for the maintenance of genetic polymorphism in the early life-history strategy of C. gigas.