As Oceans Warm, Large Fish Struggle to Extract the Oxygen They Need From Their Environment

In warming waters, the demand for oxygen of many fish species will increase, progressively approaching the maximum oxygen supply capacity of their respiratory organs.

New tool gauges impacts of warming waters on over 200 fish species.

Warming ocean waters could reduce the ability of fish, especially large ones, to extract the oxygen they need from their environment. Animals require oxygen to generate energy for movement, growth, and reproduction. In a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, an international team of researchers from McGill, Montana and Radboud universities describe their newly developed model to determine how water temperature, oxygen availability, body size, and activity affect metabolic demand for oxygen in fish.

The model is based on physicochemical principles that look at oxygen consumption and diffusion at the gill surface in relation to water temperature and body size. Predictions were compared against actual measurements from over 200 fish species where oxygen consumption rates were measured at different water temperatures and across individuals of different body sizes.

Fish will need more oxygen than their gills can extract from warming water

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