Warmer water leads to respiratory distress in aquatic animals

March 1, 2016
Warmer water leads to respiratory distress in aquatic animals
Ephemera danica (left) and Serratella ignita (right)

Warm water speeds up the animals' metabolic need for oxygen to such an extent that it causes them to suffer from fatal respiratory distress. A team of ecologists from Radboud University and Cardiff University published this finding in an article in Global Change Biology on February 29.

Until now, the link between rising water temperatures and higher mortality rates in aquatic animals was a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Are they dying because they're unable to absorb enough oxygen from the water? Or are they not absorbing enough oxygen because the is killing them in a different way?

Our earth and the water on it are warming up. This affects the growth of aquatic plants and the decomposition of organic material and this may cause in aquatic animals. These were the results of a recent study on the effects of and on the growth and survival of animals.

'Previous studies either considered in a lab setting or field studies were rather general,' explains Wilco Verberk, an aquatic ecologist at Radboud University. Verberk's work with the Cardiff team is the first to couple lab experiments with unique data compiled by the English Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales that links more than 200,000 measurements to factors like water temperature, oxygen levels and the presence of aquatic insects in the field.

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Verberk and his Cardiff colleagues found that the maximum temperature the animals can tolerate in a lab setting is three to five degrees lower in water with very low oxygen levels. The complementary field study found that a two-degree warming already had significant effects in water were oxygen levels were only mildly compromised.

Poor oxygenation of the watertherefore enhances the negative effects of rising water temperatures – effects that were equally as strong if not stronger in the field compared to a lab setting.

'Warm increases the need for oxygen in ectotherm animals,' explains Verberk. 'At the same time, breathing underwater is difficult because of the low solubility of oxygen, which makes it hard for to meet the oxygen demand. The field data shows that negative impacts already occur well below the extreme temperatures found to be lethal in the lab, probably because they are struggling to absorb enough oxygen for growth and reproduction.'

The team examined two types of mayflies that are common in northwest Europe, and occur in the Netherlands in the province of Limburg and in the clean streams of the Dutch Veluwe: the green drake (Ephemera danica) and the blue-winged olive (Serratella ignita). Water insects like these play an important role in the food chain of aquatic ecosystems. 'I expect our results will also be relevant to other species that use gills to breathe underwater. They all face the same problem.'

Explore further: Scientists air new views on how oxygenation affects aquatic life

More information: Wilco C.E.P. Verberk et al. Field and laboratory studies reveal interacting effects of stream oxygenation and warming on aquatic ectotherms, Global Change Biology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13240

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11 comments

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gkam
2 / 5 (4) Mar 01, 2016
Are the Deniers going to say this is not happening?

Where are they?
Shootist
1.7 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2016
Right. Check. The water's never been warmer.

Hog's head in a hijab.

"I'm skeptical because I don't think the science is at all clear, and unfortunately a lot of the experts really believe they understand it, and have the wrong answer." -- Freeman Dyson

If Freeman Dyson says your understanding of climate change is lacking, it is.
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (10) Mar 01, 2016
Yeah...but Dyson also says of himself

Dyson cheerfully admits his record as a prophet is mixed, but "it is better to be wrong than to be vague."
--The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet

So if Dyson is the best poster boy you can pick as your argument from authority (a logical fallacy, that, BTW) then you're really clutching at straws.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (4) Mar 01, 2016
The fact that ARGO, the GOLD standard in ocean temperature measurement, confirms the oceans are cooling, means the only fish to die this way was/will be at the hands of these "scientists" in their labs.
http://wattsupwit...missing/
howhot2
5 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2016
The fact that ARGO, the GOLD standard in ocean temperature measurement, confirms the oceans are cooling, means the only fish to die this way was/will be at the hands of these "scientists" in their labs.

@antigoracle you crack me up! I mean, aren't you and the denier goon squad feeling a bit desperate? Your now at the point of just making crap up!

All I can figure is the @antigoracle is either so stupid as to believe what he writes, or he is getting paid to troll. So which is it @anti?
antigoracle
1 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
If only you learned the difference between YOUR and YOU'RE, then someone might actually pay you. Here's an example, get someone with intelligence to explain it to you.
You're so stupid because your parent's dropped you as a baby.

PS. I'm not making that up.
Vietvet
4.2 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
antigiracle is dumb enough to link a 5 year old blog.
Vietvet
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 01, 2016
http://www.ioc-go...06〈=fr

Argo data show 16 year Ocean Warming Trend
gkam
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2016
"You're so stupid because your parent's dropped you as a baby."
---------------------------------

There should be no apostrophe in parents.
SamB
1 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2016
So, where is the 'standard' water temperature here. For instance, in the northern latitudes the water temperature is much cooler than around Mexico. So how is it that Mexico has so many varieties of marine life? And if the waters near, say Alaska, become as warm as Mexico, is it not likely that Alaska will end up with marine life akin to Mexico?.. And if Mexico waters warm even further, will not evolution kick in?
So many questions and so few answers but lots of nasty comments.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (4) Mar 01, 2016
http://www.ioc-goos.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=277:argo-data-show-16-year-ocean-warming-trend&catid=67&Itemid=100106〈=fr

Argo data show 16 year Ocean Warming Trend

Vietvet is dumb enough to link to a 6 year old blog.

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