Climate change may make some fish more aggressive. Certain coral reef fish change behavior dramatically when water temperatures increase only a few degrees.
It is now well understood in Zoology that many animals express what we might call personalities.
Consistent individual differences in behaviour, termed personality, are common in animal populations and can constrain their responses to ecological and environmental variation, such as temperature.
In a study just published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Dr Peter Biro, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and colleagues Christa Beckmann and Judy A. Stamps show for the first time that normal within-daytime fluctuations in temperature of less than 3 degrees C have large effects on personality for two species of juvenile coral reef fish in both observational and manipulative experiments.
"The idea that fish have personalities may seem surprising at first, but we now know that personality is common in animal populations, and that this phenomenon may have far-reaching implications for understanding how animals respond to ecological and environmental challenges," added Dr. Biro
Some like it hot
"Our results also suggest that temperature variations are much more significant than we thought in the way they affect the behaviours of individual animals. This needs to be taken into account for scientific studies of other cold-blooded animals, or ectotherms, such as reptiles and amphibians.
"For instance, individual variations in activity and boldness can affect food acquisition, encounter rates with predators and even the likelihood of an individual being captured by sampling or harvesting gear.