eCite Digital Repository

Fish body sizes change with temperature but not all species shrink with warming


Audzijonyte, A and Richards, SA and Stuart-Smith, RD and Pecl, G and Edgar, GJ and Barrett, NS and Payne, N and Blanchard, JL, Fish body sizes change with temperature but not all species shrink with warming, Nature Ecology and Evolution, 4 pp. 809-814. ISSN 2397-334X (2020) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2020

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41559-020-1171-0


Ectotherms generally shrink under experimental warming, but whether this pattern extends to wild populations is uncertain. We analysed ten million visual survey records, spanning the Australian continent and multiple decades and comprising the most common coastal reef fishes (335 species). We found that temperature indeed drives spatial and temporal changes in fish body size, but not consistently in the negative fashion expected. Around 55% of species were smaller in warmer waters (especially among small-bodied species), while 45% were bigger. The direction of a species’ response to temperature through space was generally consistent with its response to temperature increase through time at any given location, suggesting that spatial trends could help forecast fish responses to long-term warming. However, temporal changes were about ten times faster than spatial trends (~4% versus ~40% body size change per 1 °C change through space and time, respectively). The rapid and variable responses of fish size to warming may herald unexpected impacts on ecosystem restructuring, with potentially greater consequences than if all species were shrinking.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:temperature-size rule, rocky and coral reefs, fish size, temperature, climate change
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Audzijonyte, A (Dr Asta Audzijonyte)
UTAS Author:Richards, SA (Dr Shane Richards)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Pecl, G (Professor Gretta Pecl)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Barrett, NS (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Blanchard, JL (Professor Julia Blanchard)
ID Code:139505
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:60
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2020-06-18
Last Modified:2021-02-03
Downloads:15 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page