Joint research between Australia’s University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Adelaide has found that the country’s tropical fish migrate south as sea temperatures rise.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Review on Wednesday, drawing on 20 years of data on the abundance of fish populations along Australia’s east coast, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We have shown very strong patterns of these fish being seen, more often and more species, as New South Wales (NSW) waters warm due to climate change,” the professor told Xinhua. Ivan Nagelkerken, marine ecologist from the University of Adelaide. Wednesday.
Nagelkerken said at the start of the 20-year data set, tropical fish species were in the single digits off the New South Wales coast, and now they have observed over 100 species.
He said the impacts of this mass migration would be far-reaching and cripple ecosystems and, indirectly, Australia’s relationship with the ocean.
As tropical fish inhabit waters further south, they are likely to displace local species and struggle to survive year-round.
“Tropical fish species can invade temperate waters, but during the winter the vast majority of them will die because the winters are still too cold.”
As tropical fish have adapted to new waters to escape rising temperatures off the Queensland coast, researchers have also noted short-term behavioral changes.
“These animals are in another environment, and our study found that makes them a bit more frightened. They show more sheltering behavior. They are more cautious,” Nagelkerken said.
“It shows the effect of this stage of global warming, and they are not yet fully adapted to invade this environment.”
He noted that these behavioral adaptations were limited and that if the waters continued to warm, the fish would eventually be left with nowhere to go as they cannot migrate further than the easternmost point of land. Australia.
“After Tasmania there is nothing, and they have a big open ocean with no habitat to settle in.”
Although climate change mitigation is the overriding issue, the researchers highlighted the importance of minimizing stressors on animals at the local level.
“We (must) manage our fishery in a sustainable way that gives these fish time to adapt to climate change, so we can do something locally while we deal with a global issue. “
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