Climate-change impacts on cephalopods: a meta-analysis 

Aside from being one of the most fascinating groups of marine organisms, cephalopods play a major role in marine food webs, both as predators and as prey, while representing key living economic assets, namely for artisanal and subsistence fisheries worldwide. Recent research suggests that cephalopods are benefitting from ongoing environmental changes and the overfishing of certain fish stocks (i.e., of their predators and/or competitors), putting forward the hypothesis that this group may be one of the few ‘winners’ of climate change. While many meta-analyses have demonstrated negative and overwhelming consequences of ocean warming (OW), acidification (OA), and their combination (OWA) for a variety of marine taxa, such a comprehensive analysis is lacking for cephalopod molluscs. In this context, the existing literature was surveyed for peer-reviewed articles featuring the sustained (≥24h) and controlled exposure of cephalopod species (Cephalopoda Class) to these factors, applying a comparative framework of mixed-model meta-analyses (784 control-treatment comparisons, from 47 suitable articles). Impacts on a wide set of biological categories at the individual level (e.g., survival, metabolism, behaviour, cell stress, growth) were evaluated and contrasted across different ecological attributes (i.e., taxonomic lineages, climates, and ontogenetic stages). Contrary to what is commonly assumed, OW arises as a clear threat to cephalopods, while OA exhibited more restricted impacts. In fact, OW impacts were ubiquitous across different stages of ontogeny, taxonomical lineages (i.e., octopuses, squids, and cuttlefishes). These results challenge the assumption that cephalopods benefit from novel ocean conditions, revealing an overarching negative impact of OW in this group. Importantly, we also identify lingering literature gaps, showing that most studies to date focus on OW and early life stages of mainly temperate species. Our results raise the need to consolidate experimental efforts in a wider variety of taxa, climate regions, life stages, and other key environmental stressors such as deoxygenation and hypoxia, to better understand how cephalopods will cope with future climate change.

Borges F. O., Sampaio E., Santos C. P. & Rosa R., 2023. Climate-change impacts on cephalopods: a meta-analysis. Integrative and Comparative Biology: icad102. doi: 10.1093/icb/icad102. Article (subscription required).

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