Warmer temperatures cause greater reduction in the adult sizes of aquatic animals than in land-dwellers in a new study by scientists from Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Liverpool.
The research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that the body size of marine and freshwater species are affected disproportionately by warmer temperatures. This could have implications for aquatic food webs and the production of food by aquaculture.
The researchers compared the extent to which the adult size of 169 terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species responded to different non-harmful temperatures, in the largest study of its kind.
Summarising the results, co-author Dr Andrew Hirst from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said:
"Aquatic animals shrink 10 times more than land-dwellers in species the size of large insects or small fish. While animals in water decrease in size by 5 percent for every degree Celsius of warming, similarly sized species on land shrink, on average, by just half a percent."
The research also demonstrates that the most likely cause of this difference in size is due to the much lower availability of oxygen in water than in air. Warming increases the need for oxygen by organisms on land and in water, however aquatic species have a much harder job meeting this increased demand.
Co-author Dr David Atkinson of the University of Liverpool explains:
"To satisfy increased demands for oxygen at higher temperatures, aquatic species have fewer options. Reducing the size at which they mature is their way of balancing oxygen supply and demand."
Lead author Dr Jack Forster also from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences adds: "Given that fish and other aquatic organisms provide 3 billion people with at least 15 percent of their animal protein intake, our work highlights the importance of understanding how warming in the future will affect ocean, lake and river dwelling species."
Queen Mary, University of London: http://www.qmul.ac.uk
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Tooth unearthed by 20-year-old volunteer hailed as major discovery by paleoanthropologist overseeing dig at Arago cave near Tautavel
Autistic children are just as good at reading emotions from the body as those without – they just don't like the closeness that interpreting emotions from faces requires
Individual cells can be made to act like tiny lasers, offering a more accurate way to tag and monitor tumour cells, for example
If you want to know the secret behind the success of Tyrannosaurus rex and its meat-eating dinosaur cousins, look no further than their teeth.
A recent article argued that sexuality is down to choice, not genetics. But the scientific evidence says otherwise, and points to a strong biological origin
When I hear the word “sabertooth”, my mind immediately jumps to the great sabercats who sliced through throats …
The Portland Press Herald reports that "Captain Eli," a rare orange lobster, will be kept at the Fisherman's Catch Café in Raymond, Maine, before Bill Coppersmith releases it back into the ocean.
A very rare genetic mutation causes some people to develop Alzheimer's in their 30s. It also makes these people the ideal candidates for tests of potential Alzheimer's drugs.
Adding pigment may shield eggs from UV radiation
Atlantic bottlenose and spotted dolphins are cooperating in unique mixed-species groups that are mostly platonic, but sometimes cross-species sex is involved