Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Equatorial fish at risk as water warms

  • Written by  Charlie Furniss
  • Published in Oceans
Coral in Raja Ampat, Indonesia Coral in Raja Ampat, Indonesia Shutterstock
01 Apr
2014
Climate change is threatening the survival of fish that live near the equator, according to a new study by scientists at James Cook University in Queensland

The research found that as the water in which the fish live warms, they are less able to perform activities crucial to survival, such as evading predators, finding food and accumulating sufficient energy reserves to breed.

Published in Global Change Biology, the study measured the rates at which six species of fish living on coral reefs near the equator use oxygen across different temperatures, both at rest and during maximal performance. Many species in this region only ever experience a narrow range of temperatures, said Jodie Rummer, the study’s lead author, and so are likely to be adapted to perform best at those temperatures. Given that oceans are projected to warm by 2–3°C by the end of this century, many equatorial marine species may be at risk. ‘Such an increase in warming leads to a loss of performance,’ Rummer explained. ‘We found that four species of fish are living at or above the temperatures at which they function best.’

According to Rummer, as temperatures rise, species may be forced to move away from the equator to find refuge in areas with more forgiving temperatures. ‘This will have a substantial impact on the human societies that depend on these fish,’ she said.

This story was published in the April 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Oceans

Scientists are discovering that narwhal tusks reveal a great deal about…

Climate

Climate change is bringing earlier, dangerous 'false springs', longer summers…

Wildlife

A victory for conservation, South Africa has announced plans to…

Energy

The UK has made little progress decarbonising heating, but a significant source…

Nature

The concept of 'natural capital', where the value of nature…

Geophoto

Prestigious photography competition returns for a fourth year

Climate

Founded in the USA by Denis Hayes, Earth Day became…

Geophoto

Tom Goldner's project Do Brumbies Dream in Red? is an intimate portrayal…

Wildlife

Not your usual tune: translating spider's silk into sound could…

Oceans

Millions of oysters have been rescued from the struggling shellfish…

Climate

History is littered with examples of fungi helping to digest…

Geophoto

The streets of Philadelphia are home to a small and forgotten…

Geophoto

When photographer Matthew Maran first snapped a fox he had…

Wildlife

Coloradans have voted to reintroduce grey wolves to the state

Energy

Covid-19 provides an opportunity to re-assess the supply chains of…

Geophoto

Andrea DiCenzo is a photojournalist, who has covered conflicts for…

Oceans

Field observations of corals around the world reveal that not…

Climate

The Great Plains of the USA are once again getting…

Climate

Attempts to build a digital twin of the Earth could…