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Fish body sizes change with temperature but not all species shrink with warming

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Audzijonyte, A ORCID: 0000-0002-9919-9376, Richards, SA ORCID: 0000-0002-9638-5827, Stuart-Smith, RD ORCID: 0000-0002-8874-0083, Pecl, G ORCID: 0000-0003-0192-4339, Edgar, GJ ORCID: 0000-0003-0833-9001, Barrett, NS ORCID: 0000-0002-6167-1356, Payne, N and Blanchard, JL ORCID: 0000-0003-0532-4824 2020 , 'Fish body sizes change with temperature but not all species shrink with warming' , Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 4 , pp. 809-814 , doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1171-0.

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Abstract

Ectotherms generally shrink under experimental warming, but whether this pattern extends to wild populations is uncertain. We analysed ten million visual survey records, spanning the Australian continent and multiple decades and comprising the most common coastal reef fishes (335 species). We found that temperature indeed drives spatial and temporal changes in fish body size, but not consistently in the negative fashion expected. Around 55% of species were smaller in warmer waters (especially among small-bodied species), while 45% were bigger. The direction of a species’ response to temperature through space was generally consistent with its response to temperature increase through time at any given location, suggesting that spatial trends could help forecast fish responses to long-term warming. However, temporal changes were about ten times faster than spatial trends (~4% versus ~40% body size change per 1 °C change through space and time, respectively). The rapid and variable responses of fish size to warming may herald unexpected impacts on ecosystem restructuring, with potentially greater consequences than if all species were shrinking.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Audzijonyte, A and Richards, SA and Stuart-Smith, RD and Pecl, G and Edgar, GJ and Barrett, NS and Payne, N and Blanchard, JL
Keywords: temperature-size rule, rocky and coral reefs, fish size, temperature, climate change
Journal or Publication Title: Nature Ecology and Evolution
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2397-334X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41559-020-1171-0
Copyright Information:

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2020

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