Get access

Aerobic vs. anaerobic scope: sibling species of fish indicate that temperature dependence of hypoxia tolerance can predict future survival

Authors

  • Christina Sørensen,

    1. Programme for Physiology and Neurobiology, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Philip L. Munday,

    1. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Göran E. Nilsson

    Corresponding author
    1. Programme for Physiology and Neurobiology, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
    • Correspondence: Göran E. Nilsson, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1066 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway, tel. +47 92057838, fax +47 22854726, e-mail: g.e.nilsson@ibv.uio.no

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

The temperature dependence of aerobic scope has been suggested to be a major determinant of how marine animals will cope with future rises in environmental temperature. Here, we present data suggesting that in some animals, the temperature dependence of anaerobic scope (i.e., the capacity for surviving severe hypoxia) may determine present-day latitudinal distributions and potential for persistence in a warmer future. As a model for investigating the role of anaerobic scope, we studied two sibling species of coral-dwelling gobies, Gobiodon histrio, and G. erythrospilus, with different latitudinal distributions, but which overlap in equal abundance at Lizard Island (14°40′S) on the Great Barrier Reef. These species did not differ in the temperature dependence of resting oxygen consumption or critical oxygen concentration (the lowest oxygen level where resting oxygen consumption can be maintained). In contrast, the more equatorial species (G. histrio) had a better capacity to endure anaerobic conditions at oxygen levels below the critical oxygen concentration at the high temperatures (32–33 °C) more likely to occur near the equator, or in a warmer future. These results suggest that anaerobic scope, in addition to aerobic scope, could be important in determining the impacts of global warming on some marine animals.

Ancillary