Research on the SardiTemp project, led by MARE-ISPA, shows that the Iberian sardine has potential advantages in adapting to climate change, but even so, rising sea temperatures can lead to a migration of this species to the north.
“Due to the increase in water temperature, what is expected is that sardines speed up metabolism and, consequently, oxygen consumption. We decided to analyze the DNA of genes involved in the production of energy to see if we found any link ”, explains Miguel Baltazar-Soares, lead author of the article published in Genes magazine earlier this month.
"We found that the variation at the molecular level found between samples analyzed around the Iberian Peninsula is explained by a relationship with the minimum temperature of seawater and dissolved oxygen in it", concludes.
This opens up the possibility of an adaptation mechanism, but this may not be enough to maintain Iberian sardines in fishing areas in our territory. Gonçalo Silva, leader of the SardiTemp project, says that "This adaptation may be related to outcrop events, frequent on the Portuguese coast."
Baltazar-Soares stresses that “It is important to understand the adaptive potential of sardines to cope with climate change. Its stocks have been exploited intensively in the last few decades and, more recently, have been below the sustainable catch limit. ”
Gonçalo Silva concludes on an optimistic note: “Molecular signatures of different adaptations have been found in other species of small pelagic fish (which live in the water column, such as sardines): we have the case of anchovy, herring or even sardines of other species, in other latitudes. By better understanding the mechanisms of adaptation to climate change, we are able to be closer to predicting the impacts they will have on the distribution of marine resources, and thus, contributing to a better management of these same resources ”.
It is estimated that the global increase in the average temperature of the sea water expected until the end of the century has multiple impacts on biodiversity, dynamics and distribution of different marine resources, and consequently on the economy and survival of coastal populations – which is just the case of the Iberian sardine.