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Ocean Acidification and Warming Effects on Yellowtail Kingfish

Paper Reviewed
Munday, P.L., Schunter, C., Allan, B.J.M., Nicol, S., Parsons, D.M., Pether, S.M., Pope, S., Ravasi, T., Setiawan, A.N., Smith, N. and Domingos, J.A. 2019. Testing the adaptive potential of yellowtail kingfish to ocean warming and acidification. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: 253, doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00253.

In a recent study examining the combined impact of ocean acidification and warming, Munday et al. (2019) used quantitative genetics techniques to test the adaptive potential of juvenile yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi) under current and future seawater temperature and pH scenarios. Specifically, they reared kingfish juveniles from hatching to 21 days post hatching under current-day (21°C) or future-predicted (25°C) average summer temperature at current (500 µatm CO2) or future (1,000 µatm CO2) seawater pCO2 levels, performing the genetic analyses on fish sampled at 1, 11 and 21 days post hatching.

Interestingly, Munday et al. report that "elevated temperature, but not elevated CO2 had an experiment-wide effect on morphological traits." In particular, they note that growth and development of the larval and juvenile kingfish was "substantially faster at 25°C compared to 21°C." What is more, under elevated temperatures the fish were "approximately five times heavier and 40% longer" at the end of the 21 day experiment. Munday et al. also report that "all traits we measured exhibited significant additive genetic variance (i.e., they were heritable), which could enable them to adapt under warmer conditions."

Consequently, the results of this experiment reveal that yellowtail kingfish juveniles are unaffected by so-called ocean acidification, but positively respond to ocean warming via heritable genetic traits that "will likely aid them in adapting to a warming ocean." And that is great news for this pelagic fish species that is important to the recreational and commercial fishery industry.

Posted 14 October 2019