Scientists at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) say the species may perish permanently in the face of climate change due to its unique mating habits. After nearly a decade of observation, scientists have found that clown fish are very critical of the way they choose their mates, and that their reproductive cycle depends on a stable, benign environment. Each clownfish population has a dominant female and several adult males.
When a female dies, one of the adult males undergoes a hormonal change to become a new female in the population.
CnRS researchers say a group’s reproductive success is a guarantee of resilience. Clownfish do not have the ability to mutate genes, and if they are subject to environmental restrictions, they do not change their reproductive methods. Clownfish and its symbiotic partner, anemones, depend on corals, which are threatened by warming oceans and pollution and human invasion.
The Unedin’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last year that the planet would lose at least 70 percent of its coral reefs when ocean temperatures rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius. After a 2 degree Celsius increase, corals and the important marine ecosystems they support will be wiped out.
The researchers point out that if organisms in marine ecosystems do not adapt quickly to environmental changes, the beauty of the Ocean Floor will remain in animation forever.