Squid are important components of many marine ecosystems from the poles to the equator, serving as both important predators and prey. Novel aspects of their growth and reproduction mean that they are likely to play an important role in the changing oceans due to climate change. Virtually every facet of squid life-history examined thus far has revealed an incredible capacity in this group for life-history plasticity. The extremely fast growth rates of individuals and rapid rates of turnover at the population level mean that squid can respond quickly to environmental or ecosystem change. Their ‘life-in-the-fast-lane’ life-style allows them to rapidly exploit ‘vacuums’ created in the ecosystem when predators or competitors are removed. In this way, they function as ‘weeds of the sea’. Elevated temperatures accelerate the life-histories of squid, increasing their growth rates and shortening their life-spans. At first glance, it would be logical to suggest that rising water temperatures associated with climate change (if food supply remains adequate) would be beneficial to inshore squid populations and fisheries—growth rates would increase, life spans would shorten and population turnover would accelerate. However, the response of inshore squid populations to climate change is likely to be extremely complex. The size of hatchlings emerging from the eggs becomes smaller as temperatures increase and hatchling size may have a critical influence on the size-at-age that may be achieved as adults and subsequently, population structure. The influence of higher temperatures on the egg and adult stages may thus be opposing forces on the life-history. The process of climate change will likely result in squids that hatch out smaller and earlier, undergo faster growth over shorter life-spans and mature younger and at a smaller size. Individual squid will require more food per unit body size, require more oxygen for faster metabolisms and have a reduced capacity to cope without food. It is therefore likely that biological, physiological and behavioural changes in squid due to climate change will have far reaching effects.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 21, 2007
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