From the UNIVERSITY OF EXETER and the department of fish and chips comes this “study” which appears to be nothing more than an opinion piece.
Climate change impairs survival instincts of fish and can make them swim towards predators
Fish farms may hold key to studying the impact of rising CO2 on marine life, and if fish could adapt to climate change
Climate change is disrupting the sensory systems of fish and can even make them swim towards predators, instead of away from them, a paper by marine biologists at the University of Exeter says.
Research into the impact of rising CO2 has shown it can disrupt the senses of fish including their smell, hearing and vision.
High CO2 levels can impair the way they behave, including making them swim towards predator smells instead of away and even ignoring the sounds that normally deter them from risky habitats.
According to a paper published today in the journal Global Change Biology by Dr Robert Ellis and Dr Rod Wilson, climate-change marine biologists at Exeter University, these abnormal behaviours have been linked to the effect of CO2 on how the brain processes signals from sensory organs.
CO2 levels are predicted to be 2.5 times higher in the oceans by the end of this century.
The report’s authors Dr Robert Ellis and Dr Rod Wilson believe that fish farms, may be the key to establishing the long-term impact of CO2 on marine life.
In their paper, Lessons from two high CO2 worlds: future oceans and intensive aquaculture, Dr. Ellis and Dr. Wilson, alongside a colleague from Chile (Dr. Urbina), show that farmed fish often live in CO2 conditions 10 times higher than their wild cousins.
The scientists believe that further study of farmed fish – which already provides as much seafood for human consumption as that caught in the wild – may be crucial for understanding how aquatic species will evolve to climate change.
The captive fish farm populations living in high CO2 levels already amount to “a giant long-term laboratory experiment”.
“Aquaculture may provide an ‘accidental’ long-term experiment that can help climate-change predictions,” said Dr. Ellis. “There is the enticing possibility that fish and shellfish previously grown in high CO2 aquaculture conditions over multiple generations can offer valuable insights regarding the potential for aquatic animals in the wild to adapt to the predicted further increases in CO2.”
The aquaculture industry may also benefit from what the climate change scientists study too. The abnormal behaviour seen in wild fish may not matter in farmed fish, as they are provided with abundant food and shelter and they have no predators to avoid. But while extremely high CO2 can reduce digestion efficiency in cod, recent research suggests that relatively small increases in CO2 may actually act as a growth stimulant in some fish.
Dr. Rod Wilson said: “Our research will allow fish farmers to optimise conditions, and specifically CO2 levels, to improve growth and health of their fish, profitability and the long-term sustainability of the industry. This is really important given that aquaculture is the only way we will increase seafood production to feed the growing human population, particularly given wild fish stocks are overexploited”.
This paper doesn’t appear to be anything more than a collection of opinion, in my opinion. It is open source, so you can judge for yourself here:
Lessons from two high CO2 worlds – future oceans and intensive aquaculture
Robert P. Ellis, Mauricio A. Urbina, Rod W. Wilson
Exponentially rising CO2 (currently ~400 μatm) is driving climate change and causing acidification of both marine and freshwater environments. Physiologists have long known that CO2 directly affects acid–base and ion regulation, respiratory function and aerobic performance in aquatic animals. More recently, many studies have demonstrated that elevated CO2 projected for end of this century (e.g. 800–1000 μatm) can also impact physiology, and have substantial effects on behaviours linked to sensory stimuli (smell, hearing and vision) both having negative implications for fitness and survival. In contrast, the aquaculture industry was farming aquatic animals at CO2levels that far exceed end-of-century climate change projections (sometimes >10 000 μatm) long before the term ‘ocean acidification’ was coined, with limited detrimental effects reported. It is therefore vital to understand the reasons behind this apparent discrepancy. Potential explanations include 1) the use of ‘control’ CO2 levels in aquaculture studies that go beyond 2100 projections in an ocean acidification context; 2) the relatively benign environment in aquaculture (abundant food, disease protection, absence of predators) compared to the wild; 3) aquaculture species having been chosen due to their natural tolerance to the intensive conditions, including CO2 levels; or 4) the breeding of species within intensive aquaculture having further selected traits that confer tolerance to elevated CO2. We highlight this issue and outline the insights that climate change and aquaculture science can offer for both marine and freshwater settings. Integrating these two fields will stimulate discussion on the direction of future cross-disciplinary research. In doing so, this article aimed to optimize future research efforts and elucidate effective mitigation strategies for managing the negative impacts of elevated CO2 on future aquatic ecosystems and the sustainability of fish and shellfish aquaculture.