Climate Change Could Make Timid Animals More Aggressive

Climate change can cause changes in behavior. As water becomes warmer so some species of fish become aggressive. Some fish are inherently timid while others are bold. In experiments on fish from the Australian Barrier reef, when water was slowly warmed normally timid fish became aggressive. Their rate of activity increased as well. Evolution has created fish that fit into a niche where survival depends on a fish being very careful about its surroundings. If they openly attack larger fish it could mean the smaller ones will be eaten.

It is possible that similar changes will occur with reptiles, amphibians, ectotherms and even mammals. If timid animals become bold then they could be killed off by predators or by humans using harvesting equipment trying to catch other animals for food. Only a very small increase in temperature led to the change.

In the tests, fish were bred in captivity then released into holding tanks where the water was slowly warmed. They had no chance to socialize with wild fish. When the water was cool the fish hid in plastic pipe. As the water heated up the fish ventured further from the protective pipe.

Certain assumptions can be made from this research. As the Arctic ice disappears, Polar bears wandering near small towns in Alaska, Canada and Northern Europe could become more brazen in their search for food from garbage cans and dump sites. They could kill humans more frequently in their anger. Similarly, rats living in these cold climes may not just die of shock when hit. They could turn on people and fight back.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Australian Blog