The state of the art of research on the environmental physiology of marine fishes is reviewed from the perspective of how it can contribute to conservation of knowledge for conservation of marine fishes is the limited knowledge base; international collaboration is needed to study the environmental physiology of a wider range of species. Multifactorial field and laboratory studies on biomarkers hold promise to relate ecophysiology directly to habitat quality and population status. The ‘Fry paradigm’ could have broad applications for conservation physiology research if it provides a universal mechanism to link physiological function with ecological performance and population dynamics of fishes, through effects of abiotic conditions on aerobic metabolic scope. The available data indicate, however, that the paradigm is not universal, so further research is required on a wide diversity of species. Fish physiologists should interact closely with researchers developing ecological models, in order to investigate how integrating physiological information improves confidence in projecting effects of global change; for example, with mechanistic models that define habitat suitability based upon potential for aerobic scope or outputs of a dynamic energy budget. One major challenge to upscaling from physiology of individuals to the level of species and communities is incorporating intraspecific variation, which could be a crucial component of species’ resilience to global change.
Understanding what fishes do in the wild is also a challenge, but techniques of novel information towards effective conservation. Overall, fish physiologists must strive to render research outputs more applicable to management and decision-making. There are various potential avenues for information flow, in the shorter term directly through biomarker studies and in the longer term by collaborating with modellers and fishery biologists.
- ecological models
- Fry paradigm
- individual variation