Ocean acidification affects fish spawning but not paternity at CO2 seeps

Fish exhibit impaired sensory function and altered behaviour at levels of ocean acidification expected to occur owing to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions during this century. We provide the first evidence of the effects of ocean acidification on reproductive behaviour of fish in the wild. Satellite and sneaker male ocellated wrasse (Symphodus ocellatus) compete to fertilize eggs guarded by dominant nesting males. Key mating behaviours such as dominant male courtship and nest defence did not differ between sites with ambient versus elevated CO2 concentrations. Dominant males did, however, experience significantly lower rates of pair spawning at elevated CO2 levels. Despite the higher risk of sperm competition found at elevated CO2, we also found a trend of lower satellite and sneaker male paternity at elevated CO2. Given the importance of fish for food security and ecosystem stability, this study highlights the need for targeted research into the effects of rising CO2 levels on patterns of reproduction in wild fish.

Milazzo M., Cattano C.,  Alonzo S. H., Foggo A., Gristina M., Rodolfo-Metalpa R., Sinopoli M., Spatafora D., Stiver K. A. & Hall-Spencer J. M., 2016. Ocean acidification affects fish spawning but  not paternity at CO2 seeps. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283:20161021. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book