Fish behavior

Do fish grow faster in warmer waters?

Friday 25 Sep 20



Henrik Gislason
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 33 61


Ken Haste Andersen
Professor, Head of Section
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 33 99

Large-scale climate change projections of fish generally assume that warming waters enhance fish growth. If correct, tropical fish should grow much faster than temperate and boreal fish. But do they?

Here we follow up on that question by examining how temperature influences growth of marine fish in nature from polar to tropical environments. Our results show that fish do grow faster in warmer waters, but much less than is typically predicted by the Metabolic Theory of Ecology and used in modelling studies that predict climate change impacts.


Importantly, some fish guilds, such as large demersal fish, are almost unaffected in average growth over a 30 °C gradient, whereas other fish guilds, such as small pelagic fish and elasmobranch, increase much stronger. These results highlight that 1) the importance of temperature is overestimated in most large-scale climate change projections of fish growth and production and 2) there is sub-regional variation in the response of fish and fish guilds to temperature, which is likely shaped by the local environmental and ecological dynamics.


Read the paper here:

van Denderen PD, Gislason H, van den Heuvel J, Andersen KH (2020) Global analysis of fish growth rates shows weaker responses to temperature than metabolic predictions Global Ecology and Biogeography
22 APRIL 2021