In the 1960s, many people learned that “acid” (the drug LSD) made them behave quite strangely. Our emissions of CO2 are causing marine life to experience the effects of a much different kind of acid, but research is showing that it may also affect the behavior of fish (the vertebrate group, not the homophonic jam band).
The thinking used to be that the effects of ocean acidification were mostly limited to plankton and coral, which build their shells and skeletons of CaCO3. Impacts on these groups would then ripple up the food chain. However, it’s becoming apparent that fish can be directly harmed, as was shown in a pair of papers last month. Those studies demonstrated that increasing acidification caused increased mortality and abnormal growth of inland silverside and Atlantic cod larvae.
A new study in Nature Climate Change shows that acidification can cause detrimental behavioral changes in fish, and uncovers the mechanism by which acidification affects the brain.