Marine Biology

, 167:6 | Cite as

Elevated CO2 and heatwave conditions affect the aerobic and swimming performance of juvenile Australasian snapper

  • Shannon J. McMahonEmail author
  • Darren M. Parsons
  • Jennifer M. Donelson
  • Steve M. J. Pether
  • Philip L. Munday
Original Paper


As climate change advances, coastal marine ecosystems are predicted to experience increasingly frequent and intense heatwaves. At the same time, already variable CO2 levels in coastal habitats will be exacerbated by ocean acidification. High temperature and elevated CO2 levels can be stressful to marine organisms, especially during critical early life stages. Here, we used a fully cross-factored experiment to test the effects of simulated heatwave conditions (+ 4 °C) and elevated CO2 (1000 µatm) on the aerobic physiology and swimming performance of juvenile Australasian snapper, Chrysophrys auratus, an ecologically and economically important mesopredatory fish. Both elevated temperature and elevated CO2 increased resting metabolic rate of juvenile snapper, by 21–22% and 9–10%, respectively. By contrast, maximum metabolic rate was increased by elevated temperature (16–17%) and decreased by elevated CO2 (14–15%). The differential effects of elevated temperature and elevated CO2 on maximum metabolic rate resulted in aerobic scope being reduced only in the elevated CO2 treatment. Critical swimming speed also increased with elevated temperature and decreased with elevated CO2, matching the results for maximum metabolic rate. Periods of elevated CO2 already occur in the coastal habitats occupied by juvenile snapper, and these events will be exacerbated by ongoing ocean acidification. Our results show that elevated CO2 has a greater effect on metabolic rates and swimming performance than heatwave conditions for juvenile snapper, and could reduce their overall performance and potentially have negative consequences for population recruitment.



This project was supported by funding from New Zealand’s Ministries of Primary Industries (ZBD201403) and Business Innovation and Employment (Coastal Impact: Rate, Impact and Management project) (DP) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (PLM). We thank Kim Currie (NIWA, Dunedin) for water chemistry analysis and Steve Pope, Yann Gublin, & Alvin Setiawan of NIWA’s Northland Marine Research Centre for their invaluable technical support.

Compliance of ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This project followed animal ethics guidelines at James Cook University (JCU Animal Ethics No. A2482).

Supplementary material

227_2019_3614_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (198 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 198 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Northland Marine Research CentreRuakakaNew Zealand

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