Ocean Acidification Effects on Atlantic Cod Larval Survival and Recruitment to the Fished Population
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLoS ONE 2016, 11(8) 10.1371/journal.pone.0155448
How fisheries will be impacted by climate change is far from understood. While some fish populations may be able to escape global warming via range shifts, they cannot escape ocean acidification (OA), an inevitable consequence of the dissolution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in marine waters. How ocean acidification affects population dynamics of commercially important fish species is critical for adapting management practices of exploited fish populations. Ocean acidification has been shown to impair fish larvae’s sensory abilities, affect the morphology of otoliths, cause tissue damage and cause behavioural changes. Here, we obtain first experimental mortality estimates for Atlantic cod larvae under OA and incorporate these effects into recruitment models. End-of-century levels of ocean acidification (~1100 μatm according to the IPCC RCP 8.5) resulted in a doubling of daily mortality rates compared to present-day CO2 concentrations during the first 25 days post hatching (dph), a critical phase for population recruitment. These results were consistent under different feeding regimes, stocking densities and in two cod populations (Western Baltic and Barents Sea stock). When mortality data were included into Ricker-type stock-recruitment models, recruitment was reduced to an average of 8 and 24% of current recruitment for the two populations, respectively. Our results highlight the importance of including vulnerable early life stages when addressing effects of climate change on fish stocks.