Air emissions turn fish into sex giants

(ORDO NEWS) — Carbon dioxide pollution affects some fish in very unusual ways. The reproductive organs of the inhabitants of the ocean increase, and at the same time the ability of fish to reproduce increases.

Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere lead to global warming, but they are not only released into the air. About a third of this carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater. Because of this, it becomes more acidic (this does not mean its taste, but its chemical properties).

Numerous studies have shown that ocean acidification is detrimental to its ecosystems. But now biologists have found that at least one species feels in such conditions not just like a fish in water, but even better.

The researchers studied the fish of the species Forsterygion lapillum, which live off the coast of Australia. They compared two populations of these animals. The first lives in normal conditions, and the second – near underwater volcanoes, which constantly emit carbon dioxide (among other substances). Because of them, the water in this area contains as much CO2 as scientists predict will be in normal seawater by the end of the century.

Zoologists have found that males and females from “acidified” areas have larger sex organs and produce more sperm and eggs, respectively.

To compensate for the extra energy costs, males eat more than their counterparts from areas with normal CO2 levels. Since carbon dioxide increases the “harvest” of algae, fish food is sufficient. Females do not have an increased appetite, but they move less, conserving energy for egg production.

Also in the “carbon dioxide” population there are more sexually mature males. Scientists note that in this species it is the males that protect the eggs from predators.

All these changes lead to the fact that the reproduction of F. lapillum becomes more efficient. However, in other fish species studied by the scientific team, nothing of the kind is observed. Apparently, marine species react to changes in acidity according to the proverb “to whom the war, and to whom the mother is dear.”

A scientific article with the research results was accepted for publication in the journal PLOS Biology.

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