FunNature & AnimalClownfish could disappear due to climate change

Clownfish could disappear due to climate change

The colorful clownfish is in danger again and this time the reason has nothing to do with the Pixar animated film. If Finding Nemo unleashed the madness for having one or more specimens of clownfish in the home aquarium and brought with it a significant decline in its population, now climate change and more specifically the survival of corals are putting the friendly little fish in check . The explanation has been given by a team from the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France that has observed for more than 10 years the clownfish that live on the island of Kimbe, in eastern Papua New Guinea. The study has been published in Ecology Letters .

What the researchers wanted to know is how much influence genetics and environment had on the reproductive success of these animals. What they discovered was that the habitat of the fish, including the anemone in which it lives and the geographical location are the elements that contribute the most to the success or not in the reproduction. The genetic aspect had an influence, but in a low or insignificant way. This finding implies that the species will be susceptible to short-term and small-scale changes in habitat structure. Also, the clownfish may have a limited ability to adapt to these changes.

Clown fish establish symbiotic relationships with anemones: they use them to protect themselves from predators, as they are poisonous to other fish and they feed on the fecal matter they expel, in addition to being protected by them from butterfly fish, who love to eat anemone tentacles.

The problem comes when the anemones, home of the clown fish, are in danger, which is happening because they depend on corals, threatened by the warming of the seas, pollution and the hand of man .

According to Benoit Pujol, a CNRS researcher, the adaptability of a species is guaranteed by its success in reproduction. Clownfish do not reproduce so happily and they need a stable and benign environment.

In each anemone live a female, a sexually active male and other males who are not sexually active. When the female dies, the sexually active male becomes a female and the largest of the non-sexually active males becomes sexually active. If the anemones remain healthy, the clownfish will be able to reproduce, otherwise it could become extinct.

Gabriel Grimsditch belongs to the division of marine ecosystems of the United Nations Environment Program and affirms that the increase in sea temperatures as a result of global warming and human activities are killing corals.

Corals are very sensitive to changes in temperature in the water , in the sea, and they live in symbiosis with microscopic algae that live inside them and give them energy. When the temperature gets too high, this symbiosis that gives life and energy to the coral is broken. And when it breaks it is like a fever in humans, the coral is very stressed, it is very weak and loses its color and becomes white. In this situation the coral can die very easily and we see that there are many corals that when bleached survive for a few days, a few weeks, maybe a few months, but in many cases they lose their lives ”, explains Grimsditch on the UN News website. Bad prognosis for the survival of clownfish …

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