Ocean acidification alters temperature and salinity preferences in larval fish
Ocean acidification alters the way in which animals perceive and respond to their world by affecting a variety of senses such as audition, olfaction, vision and pH sensing. Marine species rely on other senses as well, but we know little of how these might be affected by ocean acidification. We tested whether ocean acidification can alter the preference for physicochemical cues used for dispersal between ocean and estuarine environments. We experimentally assessed the behavioural response of a larval fish (Lates calcarifer) to elevated temperature and reduced salinity, including estuarine water of multiple cues for detecting settlement habitat. Larval fish raised under elevated CO2 concentrations were attracted by warmer water, but temperature had no effect on fish raised in contemporary CO2 concentrations. In contrast, contemporary larvae were deterred by lower salinity water, where CO2-treated fish showed no such response. Natural estuarine water—of higher temperature, lower salinity, and containing estuarine olfactory cues—was only preferred by fish treated under forecasted high CO2 conditions. We show for the first time that attraction by larval fish towards physicochemical cues can be altered by ocean acidification. Such alterations to perception and evaluation of environmental cues during the critical process of dispersal can potentially have implications for ensuing recruitment and population replenishment. Our study not only shows that freshwater species that spend part of their life cycle in the ocean might also be affected by ocean acidification, but that behavioural responses towards key physicochemical cues can also be negated through elevated CO2 from human emissions.
KeywordsAnimal behaviour Olfaction Mangrove Connectivity Estuary
We thank Peter Frasier for his guidance and help in building the rearing tanks. This study was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship to I.N. (Grant No. FT120100183). S.D.C. was supported by Future Fellowship Grant No. FT0991953.
Author contribution statement
JCAP, TR and IN conceived and designed the experiments. JCAP and TR performed the experiments. JCAP analysed the data. JCAP, IN and SDC wrote the manuscript; other authors provided editorial advice.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing interests.
- Allen LG, Yoklavich MM, Cailliet GM, Horn MH (2006) Bays and Estuaries. In: Pondella DJ II, Horn MH (eds) The ecology of marine fishes: California and adjacent waters Allen LG. University of California Press Ltd, London, pp 119–148Google Scholar
- Arvedlund M, Kavanagh K (2009) The senses and environmental cues used by marine larvae of fish and decapod crustaceans to find tropical coastal ecosystems. In: Nagelkerken I (ed) Ecological connectivity among tropical coastal ecosystems. Springer, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Chivers D, McCormick M, Nilsson G, Munday P, Watson S-A, Meekan M, Mitchell M, Corkill K, Ferrari M (2014) Impaired learning of predators and lower prey survival under elevated CO2: a consequence of neurotransmitter interference. Glob Change Biol 20:515–522. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12291 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Crawshaw LI, Podrabsky JE (2011) Temperature preference: behavioral responses to temperature in fishes. In: Anthony PF (ed.) Encyclopedia of fish physiology: from genome to environment, Elsevier, New York, pp 758–764Google Scholar
- Kingsford MJ, Leis JM, Shanks A, Lindeman KC, Morgan SG, Pineda J (2002) Sensory environments, larval abilities and local self-recruitment. Bull Mar Sci 70:309–340Google Scholar
- Kültz D (2012) Osmosensing. Fish Physiology: Eurihaline Fishes, vol 32. Elsevier, New York, pp 45–68Google Scholar
- Milton DA (2009) Living in two worlds: diadromous fishes, and factors affecting population connectivity between tropical rivers and coasts. In: Nagelkerken I (ed) ecological connectivity among tropical coastal ecosystems. Springer, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Myrberg, Fuiman L (2002) The sensory world of coral reef fishes. In: Coral reef fishes: dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem Academic, San Diego, p 123–148Google Scholar
- Rossi T, Nagelkerken I, Simpson SD, Pistevos JC, Watson S-AA, Merillet L, Fraser P, Munday PL, Connell SD (2015) Ocean acidification boosts larval fish development but reduces the window of opportunity for successful settlement. Proc Biol Sci 282:20151954. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1954 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Russell DJ, Rimmer MA, McDougall AJ, Kistle SE, Johnston WL (2004) Chapter 35 Stock Enhancement of Barramundi, Lates calcarifer (Bloch), in a Coastal River System in Northern Australia: Stocking Strategies, Survival and Benefit-cost. In: Leber KM, Kitada S, Blankenship HL, Svåsand Sand T (eds.) Stock enhancement and sea ranching: developments, pitfalls and opportunities, 2nd edn, Blackwell Publishing LtdGoogle Scholar