Some Antarctic fish living in the planet’s coldest waters are able to cope with the stress of rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean. They can even tolerate slightly warmer waters. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time, according to a study from the University of California, Davis.
The study, published recently in the journal Global Change Biology, of emerald rock cod is the first to show that Antarctic fishes may make trade-offs in their physiology and behavior to cope with ocean acidification and warming waters.
“In dealing with climate stress, these fish are really bad multitaskers,” said senior author Anne Todgham, an associate professor with the UC Davis Department of Animal Science. “They seem quite capable of coping with increases in CO2, and they can compensate for some warming. But they can’t deal with both stressors at the same time. That’s a problem because those things happen together — you don’t get CO2 dissolving in the ocean independent of warming.”
The study’s authors include lead author and Ph.D. student Brittany Davis, Erin Flynn and Nann Fangue of UC Davis, Frederick Nelson of UC Davis and Howard University; and Nathan Miller from San Francisco State University.
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