The effect of climate change on the escape kinematics and performance of fishes: implications for future predator–prey interactions

Climate change can have a pronounced impact on the physiology and behaviour of fishes. Notably, many climate change stressors, such as global warming, hypoxia and ocean acidification (OA), have been shown to alter the kinematics of predator–prey interactions in fishes, with potential effects at ecological levels. Here, we review the main effects of each of these stressors on fish escape responses using an integrative approach that encompasses behavioural and kinematic variables. Elevated temperature was shown to affect many components of the escape response, including escape latencies, kinematics and maximum swimming performance, while the main effect of hypoxia was on escape responsiveness and directionality. OA had a negative effect on the escape response of juvenile fish by decreasing their directionality, responsiveness and locomotor performance, although some studies show no effect of acidification. The few studies that have explored the effects of multiple stressors show that temperature tends to have a stronger effect on escape performance than OA. Overall, the effects of climate change on escape responses may occur through decreased muscle performance and/or an interference with brain and sensory functions. In all of these cases, since the escape response is a behaviour directly related to survival, these effects are likely to be fundamental drivers of changes in marine communities. The overall future impact of these stressors is discussed by including their potential effects on predator attack behaviour, thereby allowing the development of potential future scenarios for predator–prey interactions.

Domenici P., Allan B. J. M., Lefrançois C. & McCormick M. I., 2019. The effect of climate change on the escape kinematics and performance of fishes: implications for future predator–prey interactions. Conservation Physiology, Volume 7 (1): coz078. doi: 10.1093/conphys/coz078. Article.

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