Nav: Home

Baby fish will be lost at sea in acidified oceans

December 15, 2015

The ability of baby fish to find a home, or other safe haven, to grow into adulthood will be severely impacted under predicted ocean acidification, University of Adelaide research has found.

Published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers report the interpretation of normal ocean sound cues which help baby fish find an appropriate home is completely confused under the levels of CO2 predicted to be found in oceans by the end of the century.

"Locating appropriate homes is a crucial step in the life cycle of fish," says Tullio Rossi, PhD candidate with the University's Environment Institute. "After hatching in the open ocean, baby fish travel to reefs or mangroves as safe havens to feed and grow into adults.

"Baby fish can find those places through ocean noise: snapping shrimps and other creatures produce sounds that the baby fish follow.

"But when ocean acidity increases due to increased CO2, the neurological pathways in their brain are affected and, instead of heading towards those sounds, they turn tail and swim away."

Mr Rossi conducted experiments with barramundi hatchlings, an important fisheries species. The study was in collaboration with other researchers including Professor Sean Connell (University of Adelaide), Dr Stephen Simpson (University of Exeter) and Professor Philip Munday (James Cook University).

He and his collaborators also found that high CO2 makes baby fish move slower and show more hiding behaviour compared to normal fish. This could make it more difficult for them to find food or habitat and to avoid predators.

Research leader Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken says marine researchers know that ocean acidification can change fish behaviours. But it hasn't been known how high CO2 would affect such crucial hearing behaviour as finding somewhere to settle.

"Such misinterpretation of sound cues and changes in other behaviours could severely impact fish populations, with the number of young fish finding safe habitats dramatically reduced through their increased vulnerability to predators and reduced ability to find food," Associate Professor Nagelkerken says.

There is still time to turn around this scenario, Mr Rossi says. "We have the capacity to steer away from that worst-case scenario by reducing CO2 emissions," he says. "Business as usual, however, will mean a profound impact on fish populations and the industries they support."
-end-
A Youtube video further explaining Mr Rossi's research can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3cIr9RomPM&index=1&list=PLxKwjUQ3hE0P_yExFWxMr6qUQt_FC-LW3

Media Contact:

Tullio Rossi
PhD candidate
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: +39 392 525 1316 (currently in Italy, available from 15/12/15)
tullio.rossi@adelaide.edu.au

Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken
ARC Future Fellow, School of Biological Sciences
Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: +61 477 320 551
ivan.nagelkerken@adelaide.edu.au

Robyn Mills
Media Officer
The University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 (0)410 689 084
robyn.mills@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Ocean Acidification Articles:

Ocean acidification could impair the nitrogen-fixing ability of marine bacteria
While increased carbon dioxide levels theoretically boost the productivity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the world's oceans, because of its 'fertilizing' effect, a new study reveals how increasingly acidic seawater featuring higher levels of this gas can overwhelm these benefits, hampering the essential service these bacteria provide for marine life.
International team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean
Ocean acidification (OA) is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, according to new interdisciplinary research reported in Nature Climate Change by a team of international collaborators, including University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.
Unexpected result: Ocean acidification can also promote shell formation
Fact: more carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air also acidifies the oceans.
Ocean acidification to hit West Coast Dungeness crab fishery, new assessment shows
The acidification of the ocean expected as seawater absorbs increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will reverberate through the West Coast's marine food web, but not necessarily in the ways you might expect, new research shows.
Landmark global scale study reveals potential future impact of ocean acidification
Ocean acidification and the extent to which marine species are able to deal with low pH levels in the Earth's seas, could have a significant influence on shifting the distribution of marine animals in response to climate warming.
Ocean acidification study offers warnings for marine life, habitats
Acidification of the world's oceans could drive a cascading loss of biodiversity in marine habitats, according to research published today in Nature Climate Change.
New study shows ocean acidification accelerates erosion of coral reefs
Scientists studying naturally high carbon dioxide coral reefs in Papua New Guinea found that erosion of essential habitat is accelerated in these highly acidified waters, even as coral growth continues to slow.
Study finds increased ocean acidification due to human activities
Oceanographers from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution report that the northeast Pacific Ocean has absorbed an increasing amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide over the last decade, at a rate that mirrors the increase of carbon dioxide emissions pumped into the atmosphere.
Ocean acidification threatens cod recruitment in the Atlantic
Increasing ocean acidification could double the mortality of newly hatched cod larvae.
First evidence of ocean acidification's impact on reproductive behavior in wild fish
Ocean acidification could have a dramatic impact on the reproductive behaviour of fish, a new international study shows.

Related Ocean Acidification Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".