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Warmer temperature decreases the maximum length of six species of marine fishes, crustacean, and squid in New Zealand

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fabrice StephensonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s).As global oceans continue to warm and deoxygenate, it is expected that marine ectotherms will reduce in body size resulting from the interactive effects of temperature and dissolved oxygen availability. A temperature-size response describes how wild populations of ectothermic species grow faster and reach a smaller size within warmer temperatures. While temperature-size responses are well observed in marine ectotherms, the mechanisms underpinning such a reduction in body size remain debated. Here, we analyse the relative influence of temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, and geographic location (which encompasses multiple latent variables), on the maximum body length of four fish, one crustacean, and one squid species, which inhabit shallow to deep sea (1000 m) New Zealand waters across a temperature gradient of 1.5 to 18 °C. We found that all study species displayed a temperature-size response, with the strongest response exhibited by the largest species, hoki (Macruronus novaezelandiae). We also found that temperature was more important than dissolved oxygen concentration in determining maximum body length, as dissolved oxygen levels were at or near saturation in the study area. Our results suggest that larger-bodied species may experience the strongest temperature-size responses, and support expectations from the gill-oxygen limitation theory (GOLT) and the oxygen and capacity limited thermal tolerance (OCLTT) concept that increases in oxygen demand may be size- and temperature-dependent, thus driving a reduction in maximum body length of marine ectotherms with warming.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lavin CP, Gordo-Vilaseca C, Stephenson F, Shi Z, Costello MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Biology of Fishes

Year: 2022

Volume: 105

Issue: 10

Pages: 1431-1446

Print publication date: 01/10/2022

Online publication date: 09/04/2022

Acceptance date: 30/03/2022

Date deposited: 23/11/2023

ISSN (print): 0378-1909

ISSN (electronic): 1573-5133

Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media B.V.


DOI: 10.1007/s10641-022-01251-7


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Funder referenceFunder name
Coasts and Oceans Research Programmes 5
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)
Nord University
SCI 2021/22