Fish can live in almost any aquatic environment on Earth, but when the climate changes and temperatures go up many species are pushed to the limit. The amount of time needed to adjust to new conditions could prove critical for how different species cope in the future, reveals a new study from researchers at the University of Gothenburg, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Climate change continues apace thanks to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect has led not only to an increase in average temperatures but also to more extreme weather conditions, such as major heatwaves.
More than just survival
In contrast to birds and mammals, fish are ectothermic, which means that their body temperature fluctuates in line with the temperature of their surroundings. Fish that live at different temperatures can generally do so because they are able to optimise their bodily functions to that particular temperature. Changes in the ambient temperature can therefore disrupt this balance.
"Previous research has focused almost exclusively on whether different species will be able to survive an increase in temperature or not," says Erik Sandblom, researcher at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. "We were interested in finding out how species that survive actually manage to do so, how long it takes and the limitations they have to contend with during the acclimation period."
Most vulnerable during the first few weeks
In the published trial the researchers simulated a temporary heatwave and then monitored how the physiology of the shorthorn sculpin, a common marine bottom-dwelling fish species, was affected. The results show that during the first week of the heatwave the fish were severely restricted and were forced to forego high-energy processes such as eating or swimming in order to survive.
"During the first few weeks of a sudden heatwave the fish do survive but are vulnerable to events that would otherwise pass without problem. Dealing with extra challenges such as escaping from predators or coping with disease can be fatal."
Amount of time decisive
The trial took eight weeks and the results show that the physiological load reduces with each passing week as the fish gradually manage to reset their bodily functions and acclimate to the new environment. The results also show that the "cost" to the fish correlates closely with how long it takes to adjust. In a future that is both warmer and more variable, it is therefore likely to be important not only to adjust to new conditions, but to do so quickly.
The research was carried out with: Michael Axelsson, Albin Gräns and Henrik Seth at the University of Gothenburg.
Researcher at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Tel: +46 (0)31 786 4548, +46 (0)703 286 358
Henrik Axlid | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy