DOI: 10.1093/conphys/coad094 ISSN: 2051-1434

Aerobic metabolic scope mapping of an invasive fish species with global warming

Giovanni Quattrocchi, Emil Christensen, Matteo Sinerchia, Stefano Marras, Andrea Cucco, Paolo Domenici, Jane W Behrens
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Physiology


Climate change will exacerbate the negative effects associated with the introduction of non-indigenous species in marine ecosystems. Predicting the spread of invasive species in relation to environmental warming is therefore a fundamental task in ecology and conservation.

The Baltic Sea is currently threatened by several local stressors and the highest increase in sea surface temperature of the world’s large marine ecosystems. These new thermal conditions can further favour the spreading of the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), a fish of Ponto-Caspian origin, currently well established in the southern and central parts of the Baltic Sea. This study aims to assess the thermal habitat suitability of the round goby in the Baltic Sea considering the past and future conditions. The study combines sightings records with known physiological models of aerobic performance and sea surface temperatures. Physiological models read these temperatures, at sighting times and locations, to determine their effects on the aerobic metabolic scope (AMS) of the fish, a measure of its energetic potential in relation to environmental conditions. The geographical mapping of the AMS was used to describe the changes in habitat suitability during the past 3 decades and for climatic predictions (until 2100) showing that the favourable thermal habitat in the Baltic Sea has increased during the past 32 years and will continue to do so in all the applied climate model predictions. Particularly, the predicted new thermal conditions do not cause any reduction in the AMS of round goby populations, while the wintertime cold ranges are likely expected to preserve substantial areas from invasion.

The results of this research can guide future monitoring programs increasing the chance to detect this invader in novel areas.

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