Polar Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1137–1153 | Cite as

New encounters in Arctic waters: a comparison of metabolism and performance of polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) under ocean acidification and warming

  • Kristina Lore KunzEmail author
  • Stephan Frickenhaus
  • Silvia Hardenberg
  • Torild Johansen
  • Elettra Leo
  • Hans-Otto Pörtner
  • Matthias Schmidt
  • Heidrun Sigrid Windisch
  • Rainer Knust
  • Felix Christopher Mark
Original Paper


Oceans are experiencing increasing acidification in parallel to a distinct warming trend in consequence of ongoing climate change. Rising seawater temperatures are mediating a northward shift in distribution of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), into the habitat of polar cod (Boreogadus saida), that is associated with retreating cold water masses. This study investigates the competitive strength of the co-occurring gadoids under ocean acidification and warming (OAW) scenarios. Therefore, we incubated specimens of both species in individual tanks for 4 months, under different control and projected temperatures (polar cod: 0, 3, 6, 8 °C, Atlantic cod: 3, 8, 12, 16 °C) and PCO2 conditions (390 and 1170 µatm) and monitored growth, feed consumption and standard metabolic rate. Our results revealed distinct temperature effects on both species. While hypercapnia by itself had no effect, combined drivers caused nonsignificant trends. The feed conversion efficiency of normocapnic polar cod was highest at 0 °C, while optimum growth performance was attained at 6 °C; the long-term upper thermal tolerance limit was reached at 8 °C. OAW caused only slight impairments in growth performance. Under normocapnic conditions, Atlantic cod consumed progressively increasing amounts of feed than individuals under hypercapnia despite maintaining similar growth rates during warming. The low feed conversion efficiency at 3 °C may relate to the lower thermal limit of Atlantic cod. In conclusion, Atlantic cod displayed increased performance in the warming Arctic such that the competitive strength of polar cod is expected to decrease under future OAW conditions.


Climate change Gadoids Hypercapnia Thermal window Growth Feed consumption RCP 8.5 



This project was funded through the research program BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification, phase II) by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, WP 4.1 and 4.2, FKZ 03F0655B, FKZ 03F0728B). All authors acknowledge funding through the PACES (Polar Regions and Coasts in a Changing Earth System) program of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Furthermore, the authors gratefully acknowledge Jasmine Nahrgang and the project Polarisation (Norwegian Research Council, No. 214184/F20) for providing polar cod. We thank the crews of RV Heincke (AWI, funding No. AWI_HE 408_00) and RV Helmer Hanssen (University of Tromsø) for animal collection. Further, we would like to thank Timo Hirse and Sebastian Berger for technical assistance with the manipulation of CO2 partial pressure, Anette Tillmann, Karim Zanaty, Marcel Machnik, Benjamin Matthei and Fredy Véliz Moraleda for their contribution to the measurements of pH and DIC, and Christiane Hassenrück for determining the stomach weights of polar cod. We highly appreciate the constructive comments of the editor Dieter Piepenburg, Tony Hickey, Harald Gjøsæter and one anonymous referee on the submitted manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the federal state of Bremen, Germany, and were approved under the reference number 522-27-22/02-00 (113).

Supplementary material

300_2016_1932_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (66 kb)
Online Resource 1 R output of the full and the reduced linear model fitted on HSI data of polar cod and Atlantic cod (PDF 66 kb)
300_2016_1932_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (188 kb)
Online Resource 2 Complementary gonadosomatic index data (%). Polar cod, female (n = 0–3); Atlantic cod, male (n = 0–5). Numbers below = n (PDF 187 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina Lore Kunz
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Stephan Frickenhaus
    • 4
    • 5
  • Silvia Hardenberg
    • 6
  • Torild Johansen
    • 7
  • Elettra Leo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Hans-Otto Pörtner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Matthias Schmidt
    • 2
    • 3
  • Heidrun Sigrid Windisch
    • 8
  • Rainer Knust
    • 1
  • Felix Christopher Mark
    • 2
  1. 1.Bentho-Pelagic ProcessesAlfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Integrative EcophysiologyAlfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.University of BremenBremenGermany
  4. 4.Scientific ComputingAlfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  5. 5.Hochschule BremerhavenBremerhavenGermany
  6. 6.Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  7. 7.Institute of Marine ResearchTromsøNorway
  8. 8.Institute for Cell Biology and ZoologyHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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