Ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes
Coral reef fishes are more resilient to ocean acidification than previous studies have suggested.
Numerous studies suggest that if ocean carbon dioxide reaches the levels predicted for 2100, fish could suffer impaired senses and behavioural changes, such as being attracted to chemical cues that usually alert them to predators.
Now, a team that included researchers from Deakin University in Australia sought to rigorously replicate previous studies for three years, observing the effects of ocean acidification on the behaviour of 900 Great Barrier Reef fish from six species.
Each fish was given at least four days to acclimatize to the new carbon dioxide levels. Contrary to expectations, no species became more attracted to predator cues in high carbon dioxide levels nor did they show any significant behavioural changes during other common tests.
The previously proposed catastrophic effects of ocean acidification on fish behaviour should be reassessed, the authors suggest, while continuing to study the effects of ocean warming on marine life.
- Nature 577, 370–375 (2020) doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1903-y