Posts Tagged 'fish'

The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene

Aquaculture now produces more seafood than wild capture fisheries and this production is expected to at least double by 2050. Representing almost half of global production, marine aquaculture will contribute to sustainably feeding the growing humanity. However, climate change will undoubtedly challenge the future growth of marine aquaculture. Temperature and sea-level rise, shifts in precipitation, freshening from glacier melt, changing ocean productivity, and circulation patterns, increasing occurrence of extreme climatic events, eutrophication, and ocean acidification are all stressors that will influence marine aquaculture. The objective of this themed article set was to bring together contributions on the broad theme of the potential impacts, adaptation, and mitigation strategies of marine aquaculture to climate change. Here we present 14 papers covering a diverse set of approaches including experimentation, modelling, meta-analysis and review, and disciplines like biology, ecology, economics, and engineering. These articles focus on the impacts of climate change-related stressors on the aquaculture potential itself and on the resulting ecological interactions (e.g. parasitism and predation), on phenotypic plasticity and adaptation potential of species, and on measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on aquaculture and vice versa. Considering this, adaptation of the aquaculture sector relies on anticipating the biogeographical changes in the distribution of species, determining their potential for adaptation and selective breeding for resistance or tolerance to climate-induced stressors, and fostering ecosystem resilience by means of conservation, restoration, or remediation. By will or by force, aquaculture will contribute to the low carbon economy of tomorrow. Aquaculture must move towards a new paradigm where the carbon footprint and the analysis of the life cycle of products are at least as important as economic profitability.

Continue reading ‘The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene’

Ocean acidification compromises energy management in Sparus aurata (Pisces: Teleostei)


• Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) increased catabolic routes to face long-term hypercapnia.

• Glycogen stored in liver and white muscle is consumed at high environmental pCO2.

• Amino acids are relevant energy sources at higher pCO2 environments.

• Long-term hypercapnia may lead to delayed growth rates in teleost fish.


The effects of ocean acidification mediated by an increase in water pCO2 levels on marine organisms are currently under debate. Elevated CO2 concentrations in the seawater induce several physiological responses in teleost fish, including acid-base imbalances and osmoregulatory changes. However, the consequences of CO2 levels enhancement on energy metabolism are mostly unknown. Here we show that 5 weeks of exposure to hypercapnia (950 and 1800 μatm CO2) altered intermediary metabolism of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) compared to fish acclimated to current ocean values (440 μatm CO2). We found that seabream compromises its physiological acid-base balance with increasing water CO2 levels and the subsequent acidification. Intestinal regions (anterior, mid, and rectum) engaged in maintaining this balance are thus altered, as seen for Na+/K+-ATPase and the vacuolar-type H+-ATPase activities. Moreover, liver and muscle counteracted these effects by increasing catabolic routes e.g., glycogenolysis, glycolysis, amino acid turnover, and lipid catabolism, and plasma energy metabolites were altered. Our results demonstrate how a relatively short period of 5 weeks of water hypercapnia is likely to disrupt the acid-base balance, osmoregulatory capacity and intermediary metabolism in S. aurata. However, long-term studies are necessary to fully understand the consequences of ocean acidification on growth and other energy-demanding activities, such as reproduction.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification compromises energy management in Sparus aurata (Pisces: Teleostei)’

Impaired antioxidant defenses and DNA damage in the European glass eel (Anguilla anguilla) exposed to ocean warming and acidification


  • European glass eels were lab-exposed to future warming and acidification conditions
  • Selected biomarkers were used to study physiological responses of glass eels
  • The antioxidant enzymatic machinery was impaired in the muscle and viscera
  • Heat shock response was different between tissues, increasing with temperature
  • The results emphasize the higher vulnerability of eels under climate change


The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) has attracted scientific inquiry for centuries due to its singular biological traits. Within the European Union, glass eel fisheries have declined sharply since 1980, from up to 2000 t (t) to 62.2 t in 2018, placing wild populations under higher risk of extinction. Among the major causes of glass eels collapse, climate change has become a growing worldwide issue, specifically ocean warming and acidification, but, to our knowledge, data on physiological and biochemical responses of glass eels to these stressors is limited. Within this context, we selected some representative biomarkers [e.g. glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase (CAT), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), heat shock proteins (HSP70), ubiquitin (Ub) and DNA damage] to study physiological responses of the European glass eel under distinct laboratory-climate change scenarios, such as increased water temperature (+ 4 °C) and pH reduction (− 0.4 units), for 12 weeks. Overall, the antioxidant enzymatic machinery was impaired, both in the muscle and viscera, manifested by significant changes in CAT, GPx and TAC. Heat shock response varied differently between tissues, increasing with temperature in the muscle, but not in the viscera, and decreasing in both tissues under acidification. The inability of HSP to maintain functional protein conformation was responsible for boosting the production of Ub, particularly under warming and acidification, as sole stressors. The overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), either elicited by warming – due to increased metabolic demand – or acidification – through H+ interaction with O2, generating H2O2 – overwhelmed defense mechanisms, causing oxidative stress and consequently leading to protein and DNA damage. Our results emphasize the vulnerability of eels’ early life stages to climate change, with potential cascading consequences to adult stocks.

Continue reading ‘Impaired antioxidant defenses and DNA damage in the European glass eel (Anguilla anguilla) exposed to ocean warming and acidification’

Gene expression responses of larval gopher (Sebastes carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish to ocean acidification and hypoxia

Global climate change is driving shifts in ocean chemistry, which combined with intensification of coastal upwelling, reduces ocean pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) content in the nearshore habitats of the California Current System. Physiological plasticity, within and across generations, might be especially important for long-lived, late-to-mature species, like rockfishes (genus Sebastes), that may be unable to keep pace with climate change via genetic adaptation. Rockfishes exhibit matrotrophic viviparity and may be able to buffer their offspring from environmental stress through early developmental exposure or transgenerational plasticity (non-genetic inheritance of phenotypes). In this study, mature female gopher (S. carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish were pre-exposed to one of four treatments; 1) control conditions, 2) low pH, 3) low DO, or 4) combined low pH/DO stressors during embryonic growth (i.e. fertilization and gestation), followed by a 5-day larval exposure after birth in either the same or a different treatment received by mothers. I used RNA sequencing to determine how the maternal environment affected larval rockfish gene expression (GE) at birth, after the 5-day larval exposure in either the same maternal treatment or a novel pH/DO environment, and between larvae sampled at birth and after the 5-day larval exposure within each treatment. For both species, I found that the maternal exposure drove larval GE patterns regardless of sampling time point or treatment. Furthermore, the maternal environment continued to strongly influence larval GE for at least the first five days after birth. In gopher rockfish, larvae differentially expressed fewer genes at birth between the control and hypoxic groups than larvae that gestated in and remained in the same treatment and were sampled after the 5-day larval exposure. Gene functions also shifted; at day 5, there was an increase in differentially expressed genes that were related to metabolic pathways, implying that the larvae in the hypoxic treatment are responding to the stressor. In both species, I found that larvae which experienced a pH and/or hypoxic stressor during the maternal exposure had fewer differentially expressed genes across time compared to larvae that experienced control conditions. This pattern remained consistent, even if the larvae were placed into control conditions for the 5-day larval exposure, indicating that exposure to low pH/DO stressors might cause a delay in development. These data suggest that rockfish may not be able to buffer their offspring from environmental stressors, highlighting the important role of the maternal environment during gestation. Between the two species, however, blue rockfish may in fact fare better in future conditions as their reproductive season occurs before the onset of strong spring upwelling, when more hypoxic and low pH water intrudes the nearshore. However, if future climate models are correct, shifts in the timing and intensity of upwelling season may overlap with the reproductive season in blue rockfish. Elucidating the critical role of the maternal environment on offspring physiology can help us better understand how economically and ecologically important species will fare in the face of climate change.

Continue reading ‘Gene expression responses of larval gopher (Sebastes carnatus) and blue (S. mystinus) rockfish to ocean acidification and hypoxia’

Welfare of scaleless fish, Sagor catfish (Hexanematichthyssagor) juveniles under different carbon dioxide concentrations

Increased acidification has shown to bring negative impacts on marine fish. Currently, fish with scales have been extensively investigated, whereas a few systematic studies have been carried out for investigating impacts of acidified environment towards the growth of scaleless fish. Thus, this research aimed to evaluate carbon dioxide, CO2‐induced acidification impacts towards the welfare (growth with health) of the commercially aquaculture scaleless fish, Sagor catfish (Hexanematichthys sagor) for 20 weeks. Fish specimens were exposed to control pCO2 (400 µatm), mild pCO2 (550 µatm) and high pCO2 (900 µatm). Growth were measured by feed conversion ratio (FCR) plus specific growth rate (SGR). The outcomes indicated that the significantly lowest SGR was flaunted in high pCO2 group supported with the significantly highest FCR indicating poor growth. Health parameters significantly showed the highest value of red blood cell, haematocrit, haemoglobin, white blood cell, thrombocyte, mean corpuscular volume and haemoglobin in control group while urea, cholesterol, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, lactate dehydrogenase, serum cortisol plus glucose were significantly the lowest in control pCO2 with regard to mild and high pCO2 group. These findings can serve as important baseline data in formulating managements regarding the specific effects of acidification on scaleless fish.

Continue reading ‘Welfare of scaleless fish, Sagor catfish (Hexanematichthyssagor) juveniles under different carbon dioxide concentrations’

Ocean acidification may slow the pace of tropicalization of temperate fish communities

Poleward range extensions by warm-adapted sea urchins are switching temperate marine ecosystems from kelp-dominated to barren-dominated systems that favour the establishment of range-extending tropical fishes. Yet, such tropicalization may be buffered by ocean acidification, which reduces urchin grazing performance and the urchin barrens that tropical range-extending fishes prefer. Using ecosystems experiencing natural warming and acidification, we show that ocean acidification could buffer warming-facilitated tropicalization by reducing urchin populations (by 87%) and inhibiting the formation of barrens. This buffering effect of CO2 enrichment was observed at natural CO2 vents that are associated with a shift from a barren-dominated to a turf-dominated state, which we found is less favourable to tropical fishes. Together, these observations suggest that ocean acidification may buffer the tropicalization effect of ocean warming against urchin barren formation via multiple processes (fewer urchins and barrens) and consequently slow the increasing rate of tropicalization of temperate fish communities.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification may slow the pace of tropicalization of temperate fish communities’

Boosted fish abundance associated with Posidonia oceanica meadows in temperate shallow CO2 vents


  • Ocean acidification (OA) may induce shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems
  • CO2 vents were used to assess the effects of OA on fish assemblages associated with Posidonia oceanica
  • Posidonia structure and associated fish assemblages were compared at vents and off-vents using underwater visual census
  • Posidonia density increases and fish show boosted abundance but not reduced diversity at vents
  • Mediterranean Posidonia fish assemblages may cope with OA under near-future acidification level


Ocean acidification (OA) may induce major shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. Studies in volcanic CO2 vents, where seawater is naturally acidified, have reported an overall simplification of fish assemblages structure, while some primary producers are likely to increase their biomass under elevated concentration of CO2. Here we used temperate shallow CO2 vents located around the coast of Ischia island (Italy) to assess the effects of OA on necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the foundation seagrass species Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea. We compared P. oceanica meadow structure, its epiphytic community and the associated fish assemblage structure and diversity at vents with low pH sites and reference sites with ambient pH using underwater visual census strip transects, in two seasons (fall 2018 and summer 2019). Data were analysed using both univariate and multivariate statistical techniques. Results showed greater P. oceanica habitat complexity (i.e. shoot density) and lower abundance of epiphytic calcareous species (e.g. coralline algae) at the vents than reference sites. Total abundance of adult and juvenile fish was higher at vents than reference sites, while no differences were found for species richness and composition. Overall, the herbivore Sarpa salpa stands out among the species contributing the most to dissimilarity between vents and reference sites, showing higher abundances under OA conditions. This pattern could be explained by the combined effect of a positive response to the higher structural meadows complexity and the greater seagrasses palatability / nutritional value occurring at the vents, which may help herbivores to withstand the higher energetic cost to live under high pCO2 / low pH conditions. Our results indicate that necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the Mediterranean P. oceanica ecosystem may cope with OA under the CO2 emission scenarios forecasted for the end of this century.

Continue reading ‘Boosted fish abundance associated with Posidonia oceanica meadows in temperate shallow CO2 vents’

Impacts of hypoxic events surpass those of future ocean warming and acidification

Over the past decades, three major challenges to marine life have emerged as a consequence of anthropogenic emissions: ocean warming, acidification and oxygen loss. While most experimental research has targeted the first two stressors, the last remains comparatively neglected. Here, we implemented sequential hierarchical mixed-model meta-analyses (721 control–treatment comparisons) to compare the impacts of oxygen conditions associated with the current and continuously intensifying hypoxic events (1–3.5 O2 mg l−1) with those experimentally yielded by ocean warming (+4 °C) and acidification (−0.4 units) conditions on the basis of IPCC projections (RCP 8.5) for 2100. In contrast to warming and acidification, hypoxic events elicited consistent negative effects relative to control biological performance—survival (–33%), abundance (–65%), development (–51%), metabolism (–33%), growth (–24%) and reproduction (–39%)—across the taxonomic groups (mollusks, crustaceans and fish), ontogenetic stages and climate regions studied. Our findings call for a refocus of global change experimental studies, integrating oxygen concentration drivers as a key factor of ocean change. Given potential combined effects, multistressor designs including gradual and extreme changes are further warranted to fully disclose the future impacts of ocean oxygen loss, warming and acidification.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of hypoxic events surpass those of future ocean warming and acidification’

Effect of climate change on endocrine regulation of fish reproduction

Climate change is a serious concern for aquatic environment which alters physical and chemical properties of the water causing negative impacts on the aquatic organisms including fish. Temperature alteration, ocean acidification, and hypoxia are the major factors associated with climate change, which affects the endocrine regulation of fish reproduction profoundly. Fish being poikilothermic animals, the change in environmental temperature directly affects their body temperature. Seasonal change in temperature has either fastened the spawning process or delayed the process depending upon the species and their spawning window. Ocean acidification and hypoxia had caused threat to larval survival by impairing larval behavior and sensory capacity. Often climate change shows extreme effect of the demography of fishes by leading to a non-spawning season in some species. Depending upon species, geographic location, and spawning ground, exogenous factors possess significant threat on fish reproduction. The present chapter will provide baseline information on effect of different factors of climate change such as temperature, ocean acidification, and hypoxia on fish reproduction and early ontogenesis phase of fish.

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Assessing the impact of static and fluctuating ocean acidification on the behavior of Amphiprion percula

Coral reef organisms are exposed to both an increasing magnitude of pCO2, and natural fluctuations on a diel scale. For coral reef fishes, one of the most profound effects of ocean acidification is the impact on ecologically important behaviors. Previous behavioral research has primarily been conducted under static pCO2 conditions and have recently come under criticism. Recent studies have provided evidence that the negative impacts on behavior may be reduced under more environmentally realistic, fluctuating conditions. We investigated the impact of both present and future day, static (500 and 1000 μatm) and diel fluctuating (500 ± 200 and 1000 ± 200 μatm) pCO2 on the lateralization and chemosensory behavior of juvenile anemonefish, Amphiprion percula. Our static experimental comparisons support previous findings that under elevated pCO2, fish become un-lateralized and lose the ability to discriminate olfactory cues. Diel-fluctuating pCO2 may aid in mitigating the severity of some behavioral abnormalities such as the chemosensory response, where a preference for predator cues was significantly reduced under a future diel-fluctuating pCO2 regime. This research aids in ground truthing earlier findings and contributes to our growing knowledge of the role of fluctuating conditions.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the impact of static and fluctuating ocean acidification on the behavior of Amphiprion percula’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book