clownfish By David Burdick Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Nemo's cousin stressed out by bleaching

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Clownish live in anemones, but when their home anemones are bleached, their energy demands increase, a sign they might be stressed, according to international research. Bleaching is well-known in corals, but sea anemones can also bleach during heat waves. The researchers studied orange-fin anemonefish around French Polynesia and compared the metabolic rates of the fish in bleached and unbleached sea anemones. Metabolic rates were higher in fish living in bleached homes, something researchers say could be down to increased stress levels

Journal/conference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Organisation/s: University of Glasgow, UK

Funder: T.N. was funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (Individual Post-doctoral Grant and Sapere Aude Research Talent Grant; DFF-4181-00297). S.S.K. was supported by Natural Environment Research Council Advanced Fellowship NE/J019100/1 and European Research Council starting grant 640004. S.C.M., R.B. and D.C. were supported by an Agence National de la Recherche grant (ANR-14-CE02-0005-01/Stay or Go) and S.M. from the Contrat Q4 de Projets Etat - Polyne´sie Franc¸aise and Air Tahiti Nui.

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Anemone bleaching increases the metabolic demands of symbiont anemonefish 

Climate warming and increased ocean temperatures are causing tropical corals and sea anemones to bleach, meaning that they lose the symbiotic algae harboured within their tissue. Bleaching directly affects anemones and corals physiologically, but the damage may also cascade on to other animals living in association with the corals or anemones. In this study, we investigated if anemone bleaching affected the energetic demands of orange-fin anemonefish (also known as clownfish) living among the anemone tentacles. We found that anemonefish living with bleached anemones had higher metabolic rates than fish from healthy anemones, likely due to increased stress levels associated with life in a bleached anemone host. Since metabolic rate reflects the cost of living, the increased metabolic demands are likely to have negative impacts on the anemonefish’s performance and fitness.

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  • Orange fin anemonefish 1
    Orange fin anemonefish 1

    Orange-fin anemonefish in a healthy (unbleached) anemone in the wild.

    File size: 2.4 MB

    Attribution: Tommy Norin

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 12 Apr 2018 5:09pm

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

  • Orange-fin anemonefish 2
    Orange-fin anemonefish 2

    Orange-fin anemonefish inside respirometry chambers used to measure their metabolic rate in the presence of bleached anemones.

    File size: 2.3 MB

    Attribution: Suzanne C. Mills

    Permission category: © - Only use with this story

    Last modified: 12 Apr 2018 5:10pm

    NOTE: High resolution files can only be downloaded here by registered journalists who are logged in.

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