Rapid transgenerational acclimation of a tropical reef fish to climate change

Donelson, Jennifer, Munday, Philip, McCormick, Mark, and Pitcher, C.R. (2012) Rapid transgenerational acclimation of a tropical reef fish to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2. pp. 30-32.

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Abstract

Understanding the capacity of species to acclimate and adapt to expected temperature increases is critical for making predictions about the biological impacts of global warming, yet it is one of the least certain aspects of climate change science. Tropical species are considered to be especially sensitive to climate change because they live close to their thermal maximum and exhibit limited capacity for acclimation. Here, we demonstrate that a tropical reef fish is highly sensitive to small increases in water temperature, but can rapidly acclimate over multiple generations. Acute exposure to elevated temperatures (+1.5 °C and +3.0 °C) predicted to occur this century caused a 15% and 30% respective decrease in individual's maximum ability to perform aerobic activities such as swimming or foraging, known as aerobic scope. However, complete compensation in aerobic scope occurred when both parents and offspring were reared throughout their lives at elevated temperature. Such acclimation could reduce the impact of warming temperatures and allow populations to persist across their current range. This study reveals the importance of transgenerational acclimation as a mechanism for coping with rapid climate change and highlights that single generation studies risk underestimating the potential of species to cope.

Item ID: 20235
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-6798
Keywords: biodiversity, ecosystems
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2012 04:13
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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