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Acclimation and Adaptation of Marine Fish to Possible Warming

Paper Reviewed
Donelson, J.M. 2015. Development in a warm future ocean may enhance performance in some species. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 472: 119-125.

Noting that "the capacity of organisms to cope with projected global warming through acclimation and adaptation is critical to predicting their likely future persistence," Donelson (2015) "tested," as she describes it, "whether the spine cheek anemonefish, Premnas biaculeatus [a widespread coral reef fish throughout the Indo-Pacific] has the capacity for developmental thermal acclimation of metabolic attributes and critical thermal maximum (CTmax) to increasing sea water temperature." And what did she find by so doing?

The Australian scientist reports that juveniles of P. biaculeaus pairs -- collected from the central region of Australia's Great Barrier Reef -- exhibited high capacity for developmental thermal acclimation of aerobic physiology," noting that (1) "fish reared at +1.5°C and +3.0°C above present-day mean temperatures possessed enhanced performance across all testing temperatures (28.5°C to 31.5°C)," which phenomenon she describes as "over-compensation," that (2) "fish reared at +1.5°C also exhibited a partial increase in critical thermal maximum (CTmax) by 0.5°C," and that (3-5) "fish reared at +3.0°C were significantly longer, heavier and in better condition than +0.0°C present-day fish," suggesting that (6,7) "alterations to aerobic physiology correspond to enhancement of growth and condition as would be predicted with the oxygen and capacity limited thermal tolerance hypothesis."

As for the significance of these findings, Donelson says they indicate that "the acclimation to future warming may produce overall enhanced performance in some species."

Posted 31 December 2015