Coral reef fish in a warmer and more carbonated future

Friday seminar by Göran E. Nilsson


Many coral reef fishes have long lived in a nearly stenothermic environment. For some of them, relatively moderate increases in temperature (2–4 °C) leads to large increases in their resting metabolic rate, resulting in drastic reductions in their aerobic scope that could threaten population survival since less energy can be devoted to feeding and reproduction. In addition, their hypoxia tolerance is reduced, probably making them less able to avoid predators. Bad news for climate skeptics are that the predicted rise in the water CO2 level alone also have significant negative effects on reef fish, reducing their aerobic scope and causing striking behavioural alterations indicative of nervous system effects. Differences in the sensitivity of species and populations may lead to both geographical shifts, changes in fish community structure, and loss of diversity.

Göran E. Nilsson
Physiology Programme, Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway

Published Feb. 3, 2012 2:41 PM