Climate change ‘double whammy’ could kill off fish species

16 Oct, 2023
Image: University of Reading

Many commonly-eaten fish could face extinction as warming oceans due to climate change increases pressure on their survival while also hampering their ability to adapt.

New research suggests that fish like sardines, pilchards and herring will struggle to keep pace with accelerating climate change as warmer waters reduce their size, and therefore their ability to relocate to more suitable environments.

The study also provides the first evidence to counter the scientific theory that decreased movement will result in more species, by suggesting the opposite is true. This means many species will also be less able to evolve to cope with warmer temperatures, increasing their risk of dying out.

Professor Chris Venditti, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, and co-author of the study, said: “Warming waters are a double whammy for fish, as they not only cause them to evolve to a smaller size, but also reduce their ability to move to more suitable environments.

This has serious implications for all fish and our food security, as many of the species we eat could become increasingly scarce or even non-existent in decades to come.

Source: Nature Climate Change

Image: University of Reading

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