Thermal sensitivity of field metabolic rate predicts differential futures for bluefin tuna juveniles across the Atlantic Ocean

Changing environmental temperatures impact the physiological performance of fishes, and consequently their distributions. A mechanistic understanding of the linkages between experienced temperature and the physiological response expressed within complex natural environments is often lacking, hampering efforts to project impacts especially when future conditions exceed previous experience. In this study, we use natural chemical tracers to determine the individual experienced temperatures and expressed field metabolic rates of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) during their first year of life. Our findings reveal that the tuna exhibit a preference for temperatures 2–4 °C lower than those that maximise field metabolic rates, thereby avoiding temperatures warm enough to limit metabolic performance. Based on current IPCC projections, our results indicate that historically-important spawning and nursery grounds for bluefin tuna will become thermally limiting due to warming within the next 50 years. However, limiting global warming to below 2 °C would preserve habitat conditions in the Mediterranean Sea for this species. Our approach, which is based on field observations, provides predictions of animal performance and behaviour that are not constrained by laboratory conditions, and can be extended to any marine teleost species for which otoliths are available.


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Authors: Trueman, Clive N., Artetxe-Arrate, Iraide, Kerr, Lisa A., Meijers, Andrew J.S. ORCIDORCID record for Andrew J.S. Meijers, Rooker, Jay R., Sivankutty, Rahul, Arrizabalaga, Haritz, Belmonte, Antonio, Deguara, Simeon, Goñi, Nicolas, Rodriguez-Marin, Enrique, Dettman, David L., Santos, Miguel Neves, Saadet Karakulak, F., Tinti, Fausto, Tsukahara, Yohei, Fraile, Igaratza

On this site: Andrew Meijers, Rahul Sivankutty
1 December, 2023
Nature Communications / 14
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