Elevated CO2 and heatwave conditions affect the aerobic and swimming performance of juvenile Australasian snapper

As climate change advances, coastal marine ecosystems are predicted to experience increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves. At the same time, already variable CO2 levels in coastal habitats will be exacerbated by ocean acidification. High temperature and elevated CO2 levels can be stressful to marine organisms, especially during critical early life stages. Here, we used a fully cross-factored experiment to test the effects of simulated heatwave conditions (+ 4 °C) and elevated CO2 (1000 µatm) on the aerobic physiology and swimming performance of juvenile Australasian snapper, Chrysophrys auratus, an ecologically and economically important mesopredatory fish. Both elevated temperature and elevated CO2 increased resting metabolic rate of juvenile snapper, by 21–22% and 9–10%, respectively. By contrast, maximum metabolic rate was increased by elevated temperature (16–17%) and decreased by elevated CO2 (14–15%). The differential effects of elevated temperature and elevated CO2 on maximum metabolic rate resulted in aerobic scope being reduced only in the elevated CO2 treatment. Critical swimming speed also increased with elevated temperature and decreased with elevated CO2, matching the results for maximum metabolic rate. Periods of elevated CO2 already occur in the coastal habitats occupied by juvenile snapper, and these events will be exacerbated by ongoing ocean acidification. Our results show that elevated CO2 has a greater effect on metabolic rates and swimming performance than heatwave conditions for juvenile snapper, and could reduce their overall performance and potentially have negative consequences for population recruitment.

McMahon S. J., Parsons D. M., Donelson J. M., Pether S. M. J. & Munday P. L., 2020. Elevated CO2 and heatwave conditions affect the aerobic and swimming performance of juvenile Australasian snapper. Marine Biology 167: 6. doi: 10.1007/s00227-019-3614-1. Article (subscription required).


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