MEPS - Vol. 420 - Feature article

Electronic tags attached to cod in the northeast Atlantic give unique insights into how climate change may affect the growth and distribution of this species.
Image: Stefan Neuenfeldt

Righton DA, Andersen KH, Neat F, Thorsteinsson V, Steingrund P, Svedäng H, Michalsen K, Hinrichsen HH, Bendall V, Neuenfeldt S, Wright P, Jonsson P, Huse G, van der Kooij J, Mosegaard H, Hüssy K, Metcalfe J

 

Thermal niche of Atlantic cod Gadus morhua: limits, tolerance and optima

 

Atlantic cod Gadus morhua is woven into the social, economic and culinary fabric of Europe and North America. Over-fishing has depleted once super-abundant stocks to near-collapse, and marine climate change is forecast to pressure stocks even more. Righton and colleagues used electronic tags to study thermal habitat occupation of wild cod throughout the northeast Atlantic. They found that cod tolerated water temperatures as low as -1.5°C and as high as 19°C and that growth rates generally increased with temperature. However, the thermal range during the spawning season narrowed considerably to 1-8°C. If ocean climate warms too rapidly, this narrow thermal niche during spawning may prove to be the species’ ‘Achilles heel’.

 

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