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Tristan McArley

Dr Tristan McArley (Supplied)

2020: Dr Tristan McArley, University of Auckland, has been awarded a Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for research titled: ‘Tolerance to climate warming in New Zealand snapper (Chrysophrys auratus)’

Our oceans are warming due to global climate change. This has major consequences for fish because as temperatures rise, so do their energy demands. In fish, increased temperatures are predicted to impair growth, alter their geographic ranges and cause local extinctions. Snapper is a fish of high importance to Aotearoa but how snapper populations will respond to climate change is not known. A major factor determining whether fish tolerate climate change is their ability to alter their physiology, such as heart and gill function, to adapt to higher temperatures. Fish will also need to tolerate other marine stressors such as heatwaves and low water oxygen levels. The extent to which adaptations in physiological function are able to lessen the negative effects of these other stressors is currently unclear.

In his Rutherford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship studies, Dr McArley will use snapper to investigate the impacts of global warming across multiple levels of animal organisation: from subcellular, cellular, organ and whole animal levels. This will provide valuable insights into the impacts of climate warming on snapper, and the capacity for snapper to adapt to altered habitats. The knowledge generated in this study will be essential for the sustainable management of snapper and will improve our understanding of how fish cope, or fail to cope, with climate change.

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Tristan McArley in the lab. (Supplied)