Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Science & Technology

Scripps DNA Study Will Examine Climate Change's Effects On Fish

Fish egg samples as seen through a microscope.
Ron Burton / Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Fish egg samples as seen through a microscope.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Wednesday they have completed a two-year sampling of DNA from fish that spawn near the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, creating a baseline that can be used for future studies.

The research team led by Ron Burton and Alice Harada collected 260 samples from 39 fish species, and used DNA barcoding to identify more than 13,000 fish eggs near the pier, which is in a marine protected area, or MPA.

"The primary purpose of this study was to provide a detailed picture of the species spawning in the MPAs in order to establish a baseline for future studies, which will allow us to examine the effects of climate change on the spawning patterns and fish species assemblage," said Harada, a Scripps doctoral student. "In the future, we can also use our results to assess the efficacy of the MPAs."

The results, published Wednesday in the Public Library of Science publication PLoS One, showed consistency in the fish spawning patterns, and revealed which fish are spawning locally.

The most abundant species were speckled sanddabs and senoritas, but other species observed included giant seabass, white seabass, barracuda and sheephead. The researchers did not find many species that are commonly found offshore, such as yellowtail, according to Scripps.

The study was funded by the Richard Grand Foundation and California Sea Grant, a partnership between universities in California and federal and state government agencies.