Climate Change and Clownfish Incest: the future could be way weird | Minda Berbeco
Normally, settlement-stage clownfish larvae avoid places where their parents live, and seek out places where there are few predators. Makes sense right? This strategy helps avoid incest and getting eaten – rules to live by. But, when reared in an elevated CO2 environment, their ability to sense these things becomes all screwy. Rather than avoiding their parent’s scent, they are attracted to it (5) – boomerang kids or is it just Chinatown? Furthermore, they are also attracted to predator scent cues rather than avoiding them (6) – oops!
So, incestuous, suicidal clownfish? Maybe. There isn’t any evidence yet that these clownfish would actually be so confused as to mate with their parents or get swallowed up by a hungry predator. Just because their sensory systems are impacted, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t figure out the mistake and take off ASAP. It’s the early research stage – stay tuned as the story evolves.