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Natural swimming speed of Dascyllus reticulatus increases with water temperature

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  • Cigdem Beyan
  • Bastian J. Boom
  • Jolanda M. P. Liefhebber
  • Kwang-tsao Shao
  • Robert B. Fisher

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2506-2511
Number of pages19
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


Recent research on the relationship between coral reef water temperature and fish swimming activity has stated that swimming speed is inversely correlated with temperature above a species' optimum temperature (Johansen, J. L., and Jones, G. P. 2011. Increasing ocean temperature reduces the metabolic performance and swimming ability of coral reef damselfishes. Global Change Biology, 17: 2971–2979; Johansen, J. L., Messmer,V., Coker, D. J., Hoey, A. S., and Pratchett, M. S. 2014. Increasing ocean temperatures reduce activity patterns of a large commercially important coral reef fish. Global Change Biology, 20: 1067–1074). For tropical coral reefs, one anticipated consequence of global warming is an increase of ≥3°C in average water temperature in addition to greater thermal fluctuations [IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2007. Summary for policymakers. In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working, Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Ed. by S. Solomon, D. Qin, and M. Manning et al. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; Lough, J. 2007. Climate and climate change on the Great Barrier Reef. In Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef. Ed. by J. Johnson and P. A. Marshall, pp. 15–50. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Greenhouse Office, Townsville, Qld, Australia; Johansen and Jones, 2011]. Evaluating the behaviour of coral reef associated fish species at different temperatures can help to assess their sensitivity to climate change. In this study, the speed of freely swimming fish in a natural setting is investigated as a function of seasonal changes in water temperature, as contrasted with systematic temperature increases in a fish tank. We show that Dascyllus reticulatus swim faster as a function of increased water temperature over the range 20.9–30.3°C. The experiments were carried out using ∼3.6 million fish trajectories observed at the Kenting National Park in Taiwan. Fish speed was computed by detecting and tracking the fish through consecutive video frames, then converting image speeds to scene speeds. Temperatures were grouped into 10 intervals. The data reveal an ∼2 mm s−1 increase in average speed per additional temperature degree over the range of 20.9–30.3°C. The Mann–Kendall test using the mean and median speed for each interval revealed that there is a speed increase trend as temperature increases at the 0.05 significance level, rather than a random increase. Our results complement previous studies that investigated the effect of temperature on the swimming performance of different fish species in the laboratory (Johansen and Jones, 2011; Myrick, C. A. and Cech, J. J. 2000. Swimming performance of four California stream fishes: temperature effects. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 58: 289–295; Ojanguren, A. F. and Braña, F. 2000. Thermal dependence of swimming endurance in juvenile brown trout. Journal of Fish Biology, 56: 1342–1347; Lough 2007; Johansen et al., 2014).

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