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It's getting hot in here: how will ocean warming affect reef fish?

Project Member(s): Booth, D., Matis, P.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Start year: 2016

Summary: This study will investigate how both habitat degradation and ocean warming may effect habitat association of specialist and generalist coral reef fish. As tropical fish species comprise a spectrum of habitat specialisations, differing levels of response to environmental disturbance can be expected. While it’s generally assumed habitat specialists are expected to be more vulnerable to habitat degradation than habitat generalists, a knowledge gap exists in understanding how changes in temperature may influence this. Aquaria experiments undertaken at One Tree Island will look at how both current and predicted ocean temperatures associated with climate change and habitat degradation may impact specialists and generalists in different ways. By addressing this knowledge gap we hope to gain a comprehensive understanding of the ability of specialists and generalists to cope in a future ocean and identify species most at risk and in need of our protection.

Keywords: climate change, coral reef, fish, ocean warming, habitat, specialisation

FOR Codes: Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology), Climate and Climate Change, Mitigation of climate change, Adaptation to climate change, Understanding climate change