Aerobic metabolic scope is a popular metric to estimate the capacity for temperature-dependent performance in aquatic animals. Despite this popularity, little is known of the role of temperature acclimation and variability in shaping the breadth and amplitude of the thermal performance curve for aerobic scope. If daily thermal experience can modify the characteristics of the thermal performance curve, interpretations of aerobic scope data from the literature may be misguided. Here, tropical barramundi (Lates calcarifer) were acclimated for ∼4 months to cold (23°C), optimal (29°C) or warm (35°C) conditions, or to a daily temperature cycle between 23 and 35°C (with a mean of 29°C). Measurements of aerobic scope were conducted every 3–4 weeks at three temperatures (23, 29 and 35°C), and growth rates were monitored. Acclimation to constant temperatures caused some changes in aerobic scope at the three measurement temperatures via adjustments in standard and maximum metabolic rates, and growth rates were lower in the 23°C-acclimated group than in all other groups. The metabolic parameters and growth rates of the thermally variable group remained similar to those of the 29°C-acclimated group. Thus, acclimation to a variable temperature regime did not broaden the thermal performance curve for aerobic scope. We propose that thermal performance curves for aerobic scope are more plastic in amplitude than in breadth, and that the metabolic phenotype of at least some fish may be more dependent on the mean daily temperature than on the daily temperature range.

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