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CO2 emissions boost the benefits of crop production by farming damselfish


Farming is a technique employed by both humans and animals to enhance crop yields, allowing their populations to increase beyond the natural carrying capacity of the environment. Using volcanic CO2 vents, we investigate how a species of herbivorous fish (the black scalyfin Parma alboscapularis) may use increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions to enhance its crop yields. We found that these farming fish can take advantage of this resource enrichment, to grow crops within smaller territories and increase the capacity of the environment to support more densely packed fish populations.

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Fig. 1: Effects of elevated CO2 on farming damselfish.
Fig. 2: Influence of farming versus CO2 enrichment on crop biomass and productivity.


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The experiments were performed under animal ethics approvals S-2015-222 and S-2015-019 (Australia), and approved protocol 977 (New Zealand). Financial support was provided by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to I.N. (grant FT120100183). S.D.C. was supported by a Future Fellowship (grant FT0991953) and an ARC Discovery grant (grant DP150104263). C.M.F. was supported by a Science without Borders PhD scholarship through CAPES Brazil (scholarship 13058134). We also thank the Silverado and Tracker II crew for their help during the field work.

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All authors designed the experiment. C.M.F. built, maintained and performed the experiment, and analysed the data. C.M.F., I.N. and S.D.C. wrote the paper with contributions from S.U.G.

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Correspondence to Ivan Nagelkerken.

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Ferreira, C.M., Nagelkerken, I., Goldenberg, S.U. et al. CO2 emissions boost the benefits of crop production by farming damselfish. Nat Ecol Evol 2, 1223–1226 (2018).

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