Climate change threatens 4,000 species of fish, coralsJune 17th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, June 17 (IANS) Beautiful coral reefs are increasingly under threat from climate change, and so are 4,000 species of fish, critically dependent on them for food, shelter or reproduction, warns a study. It blames global warming for the latest threat to marine biodiversity. Already many corals have died because of warmer waters associated with climate change.
“The problem for specialist coral fishes is that when the corals die, the fish have nowhere else to go. Other kinds of fish live more independently, but depend on reefs for shelter in the juvenile stage of their life,” said the study’s co-author Philip Munday.
“As coral communities become less healthy, so too do the fish communities. A loss of diversity in corals due to bleaching and other impacts is also likely to lead to a loss in diversity among the fishes which inhabit them,” the researchers said.
Like corals themselves, coral fishes seem to prefer a temperature-stable environment and heating of the water may affect them in unpredictable ways.
For instance, Munday said, warmer water may lead to higher survival rates in baby fish - but it could equally send a signal to adults to stop breeding, as reproduction is often governed by water conditions.
Recent research has shown that some species might grow more slowly if temperatures go above their preferred range.
An estimated 200 million people worldwide derive their livelihoods and a major source of sustenance from coral reefs. In Australia, a $5 billion tourism industry depends significantly on visitors being able to view corals and their colourful fish.
The problem stems in part from the fact that when many coral fish breed, their eggs are swept out to sea, and the baby fish then swim back and resettle on the reef.
If reefs have been damaged or the composition of their corals altered due to global warming impacts, this process of re-stocking the reefs with fish may be disrupted.
At the same time, the baby fish are likely to be affected by changes in water temperature and the acidification of the oceans.
As to simply heading deeper, into cooler water, Munday said that while coral reef fish do sometimes go deep, mostly they prefer the sunlit waters of the surface where the food supply is greatest, and tend to observe fairly strict depth boundaries.
The report appears in Fish and Fisheries, co-authored Munday, Geoff Jones, Morgan Pratchett and Ashley Williams of Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.
- Warming climate damaging reefs, impacting fish - Jul 11, 2012
- Tropical fish adapt to rising sea temperatures - Dec 06, 2011
- Coral reefs will survive ravages of warming: Scientists - Apr 17, 2012
- Fish learn to cope with high CO2 in oceans - Jul 03, 2012
- Warming casts shadow over survival of coral reefs - Sep 17, 2012
- 'Stress test' to identify 'reefs of hope' in climate change era - Mar 23, 2011
- Climate change forces mirgration of Australian tropical fish - Aug 17, 2012
- Warmer waters prime fish species for more sperm - Apr 11, 2012
- Rising temperatures could render some species homeless - Nov 07, 2011
- CO2 threatens fish's very survival in oceans - Jan 16, 2012
- Warming will forces fishes to migrate for survival - Nov 06, 2011
- Now climate change threatens Antarctica fish - Feb 14, 2012
- World's reef fish systems threatened by human overpopulation - Apr 06, 2011
- Gujarat coral reefs a virtual gold mine - Mar 27, 2011
- Global warming could lead small fish to engage in 'risky' behaviour - Jul 07, 2010
Tags: baby fish, climate change, colourful fish, coral communities, coral fish, coral fishes, coral reefs, fish breed, fish communities, fish corals, food shelter, juvenile stage, kinds of fish, loss of diversity, munday, species of fish, stable environment, survival rates, warmer waters, water conditions