Atlantic salmon also show capacity to adapt to warmer waters

Jul 17, 2014
UBC’s Tony Farrell was part of a research group that studies the ability of the Atlantic salmon to adjust to warmer temperatures. Credit: Katja Anttila

Populations of Atlantic salmon have a surprisingly good capacity to adjust to warmer temperatures that are being seen with climate change, a group of scientists at the University of Oslo and University of British Columbia have discovered. The finding about Atlantic species adds to recent UBC-supported research on heat tolerance of Pacific salmon.

The new study, a collaboration between Norwegian and Canadian researchers, was recently published in Nature Communications. Funded by the Norwegian Research Council, it addressed questions around how climate change might affect salmon species distribution and abundance.

UBC authors of the study include Katja Anttila, a postdoctoral fellow who now works at the University of Turku in Finland, and Tony Farrell, Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture.

Scientists studied from two European rivers. They compared a cold-water population from Norway's northern Alta River, where water temperatures have not exceeded 18 C for 30 years, with warm-water populations from France's Dordogne River, located 3,000 kilometres south, where annual water temperatures regularly exceed 20 C.

Eggs from both populations were hatched at the University of Oslo, where they were raised at 12 C or 20 C. Despite substantially different natural environments, both populations had remarkably similar capabilities when warmed.

When reared at 12 C temperatures, salmon from both populations developed at 21 to 23 C, after a of 150 beats per minute. But those raised at 20 C developed cardiac arrhythmias at a surprising 27.5 C, after the heart reached 200 beats per minute. Researchers found that increasing the fish's acclimation temperature by 8 C raised temperature tolerance by 6 C.

"The results are surprising," Farrell said. "A fish faced with uncomfortably warm temperatures might relocate or even die if it is too extreme. Here we have evidence for warm acclimation of a commercially and culturally important fish species."

Explore further: Maternal effect key to fish combating climate change

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dayblakely_donaldson
5 / 5 (1) Jul 17, 2014
Thanks for the article. The first year of a fish's life seems to be crucial in these recent studies on the effects of warming waters on fish populations. Here is a similar study, where researchers looked at two fish species, one which thrives in warming waters, one which suffers. It may shed light on how many of our northern species will react to warming> http://thespeaker...warming/
antigoracle
not rated yet Jul 18, 2014
The planet has seen far warmer temperatures and higher CO2, and life flourished.