Methods matter in repeating ocean acidification studies

Arising from T. D. Clark et al. Nature https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1903-y (2020)

In their study, Clark et al.1 suggest that previous studies on the effects of elevated levels of CO2 on the behaviour of coral reef fishes are not repeatable and that ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes, even though six significant behavioural effects were detected in their study, each of which was dismissed for a different reason. They then compare the means and variances of six previous ocean acidification studies in fish with a data distribution that is derived from a multi-species compilation of their own data to conclude that the results of previous studies are statistically improbable. However, Clark et al.1 did not closely repeat previous studies, as they did not replicate key species, used different life stages and ecological histories and changed methods in important ways that reduce the likelihood of detecting the effects of ocean acidification.

Munday P. L., Dixson D. L., Welch M. J., Chivers D. P., Domenici P., Grosell M., Heuer R. M., Jones G. P., McCormick M. I., Meekan M., Nilsson G. E., Ravasi T. & Watson S.-A., 2020. Methods matter in repeating ocean acidification studies. Nature 586: E20–E24. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2803-x. Article (subscription required).

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