Finding Nemo is getting harder: Rising sea temperatures are reducing the population of clownfish by making them infertile, scientists warn

Mail Online | 10/10/2017 | Shivali Best For Mailonline
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Finding Nemo is getting harder as climate change makes the fish infertile, according to new research.

The homes of the clownfish that inspired the hit movie are being destroyed by warming seas in the South Pacific.

Colourful - Sex - Drive - Numbers - Quarters

It's stressing the colourful creatures out and reducing their sex drive, decimating numbers of offspring by three quarters, warn scientists.

A study off the coast of Moorea Island in French Polynesia found they laid far fewer eggs after its host anemones became bleached last year.

Clownfish - Anemonefish - Animals - Reefs - Protection

Clownfish, also known as anemonefish, use the soft bodied animals that attach themselves to coral reefs to shelter in for protection against predators.

Bleaching is a well-known problem in corals, but it can also happen to sea anemones during heat waves.

Professor - Suzanne - Mills - EPHE - PSL

Professor Suzanne Mills, of EPHE PSL Research University, Moorea, said: 'While no effects on adult anemone survival were observed, the effects of bleaching on reproduction and population demography were likely even greater than demonstrated here.'

She said the finding is alarming with manmade stressors and the rate of change in environmental conditions expected to multiply in the coming decades, 'with bleaching and habitat degradation becoming more frequent.'

Professor - Mills - Individuals - Populations - Physiology

Professor Mills added: 'Understanding whether individuals and populations can adjust their physiology and behaviour fast enough, either plastically or through evolutionary change, is a priority in conservation physiology.'

The golden colour of the anemones is due to the microalgae present in their tentacles.

Microalgae - Living - Harmony - Corals

But warming causes the microalgae living in harmony with the corals to be ejected, which causes them to bleach.

Clownfish protect themselves from predators by sheltering among the anemones' tentacles, and each month lay eggs at their base.

Anemones - Clownfish

Equally, the anemones are also protected by the clownfish that they host.

Every other day for 14 months, from October 2015 to December 2016, researchers and students visited 13 pairs of clownfish and their host anemones in the coral reefs of...
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