Scientists Discover ‘Tempers’ Cool Down When Water Temperatures Heat Up

Source: Phys.org/Lancaster University

Photo: David Clode/Unsplash

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Researchers found that when water temperatures heat up for corals, fish ‘tempers’ cool down, providing the first clear evidence of coral bleaching serving as a trigger for rapid change in reef fish behaviour.

Publishing in Nature Climate Change this week, researchers from Lancaster University and collaborating institutes including the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), show how the iconic butterflyfish, considered to be sensitive indicators of  health, can offer an early warning sign that reef  populations are in trouble.

The international team of researchers spent more than 600 hours underwater observing butterflyfish over a two-year period encompassing the unprecedented mass  event of 2016. Led by Dr. Sally Keith of Lancaster University, previously Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, the team examined 17 reefs across the central Indo-Pacific in Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Christmas Island (Indian Ocean).

During the initial data collection, the researchers were unaware that the catastrophic bleaching event was on the horizon.

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Photo: David Clode/Unsplash

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