Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fish learn to cope in a high carbon dioxide world, new study suggests

Date:
July 3, 2012
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Some coral reef fish may be better prepared to cope with rising carbon dioxide in the world's oceans -- thanks to their parents. Encouraging new findings show that some fish may be less vulnerable to high CO2 and an acidifying ocean than previously feared.

Some coral reef fish may be better prepared to cope with rising CO2 in the world's oceans -- thanks to their parents.
Credit: crisod / Fotolia

Some coral reef fish may be better prepared to cope with rising CO2 in the world's oceans -- thanks to their parents.

Related Articles


Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) recently reported in the journal Nature Climate Change, encouraging new findings that some fish may be less vulnerable to high CO2 and an acidifying ocean than previously feared.

"There has been a lot of concern around the world about recent findings that baby fish are highly vulnerable to small increases in acidity, as more CO2 released by human activities dissolves into the oceans," says Dr Gabi Miller of CoECRS and James Cook University.

"Our work with anemone fish shows that their babies, at least, can adjust to the changes we expect to occur in the oceans by 2100, provided their parents are also raised in more acidic water."

"Human activity is expected to increase the acidity of the world's oceans by 0.3 to 0.4 pH by the end of this century, on our present trends in CO2 emissions," co-researcher Prof Philip Munday says.

"Previous studies, and our own research, have shown that growth and survival of juvenile fish can be seriously affected when the baby fish are exposed to these sorts of CO2 and pH levels," he says.

"However when we exposed both parents and their offspring in more acidic water we found that the anemone fish, at least, were able to compensate for the change" says Dr Miller. Whether this effect lasts all their lives, remains to be seen." she adds.

How parent fish actually pass on this ability to deal with acidity to their offspring is still a mystery, says Prof Munday. "The time interval is too short for it to be genetic adaptation in the normal sense. However, it's an important parental effect that we need to factor in as we assess the vulnerability of the world's fish stocks to the planet-wide changes in ocean chemistry that humans are now causing."

Based on evidence from past major extinction events, scientists have long feared that the acidity caused by the release of high levels of CO2 could cause havoc among sea-life, especially those which depend on calcium to form their bones and shells. New research has also shown that higher CO2 levels can cause the nervous systems of some marine species to malfunction.

The recent increase in ocean acidity due to human activity in releasing carbon -- about 0.1 of a pH unit over the last half century -- is thought to be steeper even than in any of the past major extinctions, which eliminated between 70-90 per cent of marine species.

"What this research shows is that some species, at least, may have more capacity to cope than we thought -- which could help buy time for humanity to bring its CO2 emission under control," Prof Munday says.

However Dr Miller cautions that anemone fish are particularly hardy by nature, and may not be typical of all fish in the ocean. "They are definitely not the 'canary in the coal mine', as they have quite a large ability to cope with changed conditions anyway," she says. "We need to extend these studies to other types of fish, especially those which humans rely on for food."

Both scientists warn that the major impact on ocean acidification is likely to be on the corals themselves, and the reefs which they form, which in turn provide the habitat for small fish such as the anemone fish. The fate of the world's reefs under a high human CO2 regime remains highly uncertain, they caution.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gabrielle M. Miller, Sue-Ann Watson, Jennifer M. Donelson, Mark I. McCormick, Philip L. Munday. Parental environment mediates impacts of increased carbon dioxide on a coral reef fish. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1599

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Fish learn to cope in a high carbon dioxide world, new study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703134151.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2012, July 3). Fish learn to cope in a high carbon dioxide world, new study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703134151.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Fish learn to cope in a high carbon dioxide world, new study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703134151.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins