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People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.

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Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution

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Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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Squid could thrive under climate change

14
Jun 2019

Squid will survive and may even flourish under even the worst-case ocean acidification scenarios, according to a new study published this week.

Dr Blake Spady, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) at James Cook University (JCU), led the study. He said squid live on the edge of their environmental oxygen limitations due to their energy-taxing swimming technique. They were expected to fare badly with more carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water, which makes it more acidic.

“Their blood is highly sensitive to changes in acidity, so we expected that future ocean acidification would negatively affect their aerobic performance,” said Dr Spady.

Atmospheric COconcentrations have increased from 280 parts per million (ppm) before the industrial revolution to more than 400 ppm today. Scientists project atmospheric CO2—and by extension COin the oceans—may exceed 900 ppm by the end of this century unless current CO2 emissions are curtailed.

But when the team tested two-toned pygmy squid and bigfin reef squid at JCU’s research aquarium, subjecting them to COlevels projected for the end of the century, they received a surprise.

“We found that these two species of tropical squid are unaffected in their aerobic performance and recovery after exhaustive exercise by the highest projected end-of-century COlevels,” said Dr Spady.

He said it may be an even greater boost for the squid as some of their predators and prey have been shown to lose performance under predicted climate change scenarios.

“We think that squid have a high capacity to adapt to environmental changes due to their short lifespans, fast growth rates, large populations, and high rate of population increase,” said Dr Spady.

He said the work is important because it gives a better understanding of how future ecosystems might look under elevated COconditions.

“We are likely to see certain species as being well-suited to succeed in our rapidly changing oceans, and these species of squid may be among them.”

“The thing that is emerging with most certainty is that it’s going to be a very different world,” he said.

The paper is out now: Spady B, Nay T, Rummer J, Munday P, Watson S (2019). Conservation Physiology. ‘Aerobic performance of two tropical cephalopod species unaltered by prolonged exposure to projected future carbon dioxide levels’. DOI: 10.1093/conphys/coz024

IMAGES

Media can find images of Dr Spady here.

CONTACT
Dr Blake Spady (AEST, Australia)
M: 0456 777 883
E: blake.spady@jcu.edu.au

 

Squid are showing resilience to ocean acidification. Credit: Blake Spady
Squid are showing resilience to ocean acidification. Credit: Blake Spady

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au