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Temperature effects on oxygen thresholds for hypoxia in marine benthic organisms


Raquel Vaquer-Sunyer, tel. +34 971610897, fax +34 971611761, e-mail:


The effect of warming on the oxygen requirements and the survival of benthic organisms under hypoxia was tested using a meta-analysis of published results of experiments evaluating the effects of temperature on the median lethal time and median lethal concentration of benthic macrofauna under hypoxia. The meta-analysis confirmed that survival times under hypoxia were reduced by on average 74% and that median lethal concentration increased by on average 16% when marine benthic organisms were exposed to warmer temperatures. Warming reduced survival times of marine benthic macrofauna under hypoxia by a median of 3.95±1.67 h  °C−1 and increased the oxygen thresholds for hypoxia-driven mortality by a median of 1.02±0.15% saturation  °C−1 or 0.07±0.01 mg O2 L−1  °C−1. The corresponding Q10 values averaged 3.01±0.29 for the median survival time and 2.09±0.20 for the median lethal oxygen concentration. Use of these Q10 values predicts that the 4 °C warming expected during the 21st century will lead to survival times 35.6% lower under hypoxia and that the threshold oxygen concentrations for high mortality to occur will increase by, on average, 25.5% if bottom water temperature increased by 4 °C. Hence, ocean warming is expected to increase the vulnerability of benthic macrofauna to reduced oxygen concentrations and expand the area of coastal ecosystems affected by hypoxia.

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