Increasing ocean temperatures reduce activity patterns of a large commercially important coral reef fish

Johansen, J.L., Messmer, V., Coker, D.J., Hoey, A.S., and Pratchett, M.S. (2014) Increasing ocean temperatures reduce activity patterns of a large commercially important coral reef fish. Global Change Biology, 20 (4). pp. 1067-1074.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Large-bodied fish are critical for sustaining coral reef fisheries, but little is known about the vulnerability of these fish to global warming. This study examined the effects of elevated temperatures on the movement and activity patterns of the common coral trout Plectropomus leopardus (Serranidae), which is an important fishery species in tropical Australia and throughout the Indo West-Pacific. Adult fish were collected from two locations on Australia's Great Barrier Reef (23°S and 14°S) and maintained at one of four temperatures (24, 27, 30, 33 °C). Following >4 weeks acclimation, the spontaneous swimming speeds and activity patterns of individuals were recorded over a period of 12 days. At 24–27 °C, spontaneous swimming speeds of common coral trout were 0.43–0.45 body lengths per second (bls−1), but dropped sharply to 0.29 bls−1 at 30 °C and 0.25 bls−1 at 33 °C. Concurrently, individuals spent 9.3–10.6% of their time resting motionless on the bottom at 24–27 °C, but this behaviour increased to 14.0% at 30 °C and 20.0% of the time at 33 °C (mean ± SE). The impact of temperature was greatest for smaller individuals (<45 cm TL), showing significant changes to swimming speeds across every temperature tested, while medium (45–55 cm TL) and large individuals (>55 cm TL) were first affected by 30 °C and 33 °C, respectively. Importantly, there was some indication that populations can adapt to elevated temperature if presented with adequate time, as the high-latitude population decreased significantly in swimming speeds at both 30 °C and 33 °C, while the low-latitude population only showed significant reductions at 33 °C. Given that movement and activity patterns of large mobile species are directly related to prey encounter rates, ability to capture prey and avoid predators, any reductions in activity patterns are likely to reduce overall foraging and energy intake, limit the energy available for growth and reproduction, and affect the fitness and survival of individuals and populations.

Item ID: 31643
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: coral trout; Plectropomus leopardus; fisheries; global warming; climate change; swimming speeds; resting; reserves; conservation; management
Funders: Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Australian Research Council (ARC), Queensland Smart Futures Fellowship
Projects and Grants: FRDC Project No 2010/554
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2014 02:14
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 20%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070499 Fisheries Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 20%
Downloads: Total: 5
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page