Impact of ocean warming on a coral reef fish learning and memory

Silveira, Mayara M., Donelson, Jennifer M., McCormick, Mark I., Araujo-Silva, Heloysa, and Luchiari, Ana C. (2023) Impact of ocean warming on a coral reef fish learning and memory. PeerJ, 11. e15729.

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Tropical ectotherms are highly sensitive to environmental warming, especially coral reef fishes, which are negatively impacted by an increase of a few degrees in ocean temperature. However, much of our understanding on the thermal sensitivity of reef fish is focused on a few traits (e.g., metabolism, reproduction) and we currently lack knowledge on warming effects on cognition, which may endanger decision-making and survival. Here, we investigated the effects of warming on learning and memory in a damselfish species, Acanthochromis polyacanthus. Fish were held at 28–28.5◦C (control group), 30–30.5◦C (moderate warming group) or 31.5–32◦C (high warming group) for 2 weeks, and then trained to associate a blue tag (cue) to the presence of a conspecific (reward). Following 20 training trials (5 days), fish were tested for associative learning (on the following day) and memory storage (after a 5-days interval). The control group A. polyacanthus showed learning of the task and memory retention after five days, but increasing water temperature impaired learning and memory. A thorough understanding of the effects of heat stress, cognition, and fitness is urgently required because cognition may be a key factor determining animals’ performance in the predicted scenario of climate changes. Knowing how different species respond to warming can lead to better predictions of future community dynamics, and because it is species specific, it could pinpoint vulnerable/resilience species.

Item ID: 80539
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: Behavior, Climate change, Cognition, Damselfish, Stress, Temperature
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2023 Silveira et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Future Fellowship FT190100015
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2023 22:09
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology > 520401 Cognition @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 30%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 60%
19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1901 Adaptation to climate change > 190102 Ecosystem adaptation to climate change @ 40%
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