Ocean acidification erodes crucial auditory behaviour in a marine fish

Stephen D. Simpson, Philip L. Munday, Matthew L. Wittenrich, Rachel Manassa, Danielle L. Dixson, Monica Gagliano, Hong Y. Yan

Abstract

Ocean acidification is predicted to affect marine ecosystems in many ways, including modification of fish behaviour. Previous studies have identified effects of CO2-enriched conditions on the sensory behaviour of fishes, including the loss of natural responses to odours resulting in ecologically deleterious decisions. Many fishes also rely on hearing for orientation, habitat selection, predator avoidance and communication. We used an auditory choice chamber to study the influence of CO2-enriched conditions on directional responses of juvenile clownfish (Amphiprion percula) to daytime reef noise. Rearing and test conditions were based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions for the twenty-first century: current-day ambient, 600, 700 and 900 µatm pCO2. Juveniles from ambient CO2-conditions significantly avoided the reef noise, as expected, but this behaviour was absent in juveniles from CO2-enriched conditions. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first evidence that ocean acidification affects the auditory response of fishes, with potentially detrimental impacts on early survival.

  • Received March 14, 2011.
  • Accepted May 10, 2011.
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