MEPS 571:183-191 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12130

Impact of ocean warming and acidification on the behaviour of two co-occurring gadid species, Boreogadus saida and Gadus morhua, from Svalbard

Matthias Schmidt1,2, Gabriele Gerlach3, Elettra Leo1,2, Kristina Lore Kunz1,2, Steffen Swoboda1, Hans-Otto Pörtner1,2, Christian Bock1, Daniela Storch1,*

1Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Section Integrative Ecophysiology, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
2University of Bremen, Fachbereich 2, NW 2 / Leobener Strasse, 28359 Bremen, Germany
3Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Institute for Biology, Group Biodiversity and Evolution of Animals, Carl von Ossietzky Str. 9-11, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Ocean acidification induces strong behavioural alterations in marine fish as a consequence of acid-base regulatory processes in response to increasing environmental CO2 partial pressure. While these changes have been investigated in tropical and temperate fish species, nothing is known about behavioural effects on polar species. In particular, fishes of the Arctic Ocean will experience much greater acidification and warming than temperate or tropical species. Also, possible interactions of ocean warming and acidification are still understudied. Here we analysed the combined effects of warming and acidification on behavioural patterns of 2 fish species co-occurring around Svalbard, viz. polar cod Boreogadus saida and Atlantic cod Gadus morhua. We found a significant temperature effect on the spontaneous activity of B. saida, but not of G. morhua. Environmental CO2 did not significantly influence activity of either species. In contrast, behavioural laterality of B. saida was affected by CO2 but not by temperature. Behavioural laterality of G. morhua was not affected by temperature or CO2; however, in this species, a possible temperature dependency of CO2 effects on relative laterality may have been missed due to sample size restrictions. This study indicates that fish in polar ecosystems may undergo some, albeit less intense, behavioural disturbances under ocean acidification and in combination with ocean warming than observed in tropical species. It further accentuates species-specific differences in vulnerability.


KEY WORDS: Ocean acidification · Climate change · Fish behaviour · Laterality · Activity · Polar habitat · Atlantic cod · Polar cod


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Cite this article as: Schmidt M, Gerlach G, Leo E, Kunz KL and others (2017) Impact of ocean warming and acidification on the behaviour of two co-occurring gadid species, Boreogadus saida and Gadus morhua, from Svalbard. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 571:183-191. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12130

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