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Project N.2.a - Develop models of the effects of climate change on pre-recruit life stages of tropical tunas

01 Jan 2018 - 31 Dec 2022

Program(s) in charge: Early-life History Group
Funded
Objectives
Investigate experimentally the effects of important climate change factors on early life stages of tropical tunas, and incorporate those results into models that can predict climate change effects on the distribution and abundance of tropical tunas
Background
  • Tuna populations are key components of pelagic ecosystems, but the effects of climate change on tuna biomass, distributions and recruitment are almost unknown
  • The Achotines Laboratory provides an essential experimental center for investigations of the effects of climate change factors on pre-recruit life stages of tropical tunas
  • A study of the effects of ocean acidification on yellowfin egg and larval stages was conducted at the Achotines Laboratory in 2011 and the results published in two papers in 2015 and 2016, with an additional two papers in preparation
  • A new study investigating molecular effects of ocean acidification and ultraviolet irradiance on yellowfin eggs and embryos was conducted by University of Miami scientists at the Achotines Laboratory in late 2019.  The IATTC early life history group is collaborating on the study.
  • The effects of additional climate change factors, such as ocean warming and anoxia, can be studied at the Achotines Laboratory and incorporated into models of multifactor effects on pre-recruit life stages
Relevance for management
Potential impacts of climate change on early life stages are an important consideration in future assessments of tunas in the EPO, and experimental results can allow models to be parameterized to include climate change effects on pre-recruit survival and spawning and nursery habitat
Duration
3 years
Workplan and status
  • January 2018-June 2022: Completion of analyses and manuscripts from the 2011 study describing ocean acidification effects on larval otolith morphology and genetic expression of resistant traits in yellowfin
  • May 2020 – March 2022: Completion of analyses and manuscript from the 2019 molecular study led by University of Miami
  • January 2020-December 2022: There are plans to develop experimental investigations to study the effects of ocean warming and anoxia on pre-recruit life stages of yellowfin
External collaborators
  • ABARES and AFMA, Australia; Macquarie University, Australia
  • Secretariat of the Pacific Community
  • Drs. Rachael Heuer, Christina Pasparakis and Martin Grosell, University of Miami
Deliverables
  • Presentations for SAC-09, SAC-10 and SAC-11
  • Publication of results in several scientific journals
Updated date: 01 Mar 2022
Progress summary for the reporting period
  • Analysis of the effects of ocean acidification on yellowfin larval otolith morphology has been completed; studies of the genetic expression of resistant traits continue.
  • The larval otolith analysis was completed and submitted as a manuscript in early 2022. The genetic analysis of expression of resistant traits in response to ocean acidification has been slower
  • The experimental results from the 2011 study have been used in several modeling efforts to estimate the impacts of ocean acidification on yellowfin in the Pacific Ocean
  • The molecular study of ocean acidification effects led by University of Miami was conducted at the Achotines Laboratory in late 2019 with 3 scientific publications produced
Challenges and key lessons learnt
  • Combining rearing larval tunas with precise control of the physical carbonate system was particularly challenging. A large collaborative research group, with expertise in larval ecology, carbonate system testing, and modeling was developed to complete the study.
  • Studies of the effects of additional climate change factors, such as ocean warming and anoxia, will require additional funding, which to-date has not been secured.
Presentations: 
  • SAC-10, SAC-11 and SAC-12
  • 69th Tuna Conference (May 2018) and 71st Tuna Conference (May 2021)
  • 42nd Larval Fish Conference (June 2018) and 43rd Larval Fish Conference (May 2019)
  • Three scientific papers using experimental results from the 2011 study presented modeling predictions of the effects of ocean acidification on yellowfin abundance in the Pacific Ocean
  • Three manuscripts summarizing results of the 2019 molecular study led by University of Miami with IATTC collaboration have been published or are in review as of March 2022
  • SAC-12-15 Review of research at the Achotines Laboratory
Comments
The multirelational analyses of experimental results from the 2011 study should be completed in 2022.