Specific Species Traits Can Guide Sustainable Aquaculture

With an increased demand for seafood, marine-based aquaculture, also known as mariculture, has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world. However, changing oceanic conditions could threaten the success of this rapidly growing industry.

To better understand which species will be most sustainable, Froehlich et al. analyzed tolerance and life-history relationships of 178 farmed mariculture species. Using temperature tolerance range, minimum dissolved oxygen observations, growth parameters (asymptotic size and rate), trophic level, taxon, region, and market value, the paper recently published in Aquaculture provides a baseline understanding of how these different physiological and environmental factors affect sustainability.

"Each species we choose to raise in aquaculture has some traits that are advantageous to cultivation, and others which hinder cultivation. As of now, specifically comparing growth and tolerance traits and their potential tradeoffs across multiple species and taxonomic groups has not been done before. However, considering these species trait tradeoffs is extremely important to the future sustainability, economic stability, and production in the aquaculture industry."

      -Halley Froehlich, NCEAS Postdoc Researcher

The results reveal larger, slower growing species are more tolerant to changing oceanic conditions. However, because these organisms are often higher in tropic level (i.e. carnivores) they require more resources to grow, making them less sustainable. Additionally, Froehlich et al. found that while the majority of farmed species are currently tropical in origin (37%) subtropical and temperate water species are more tolerant to changes in temperature and dissolved oxygen levels. Therefore, in the future, mariculture operations may want to change their focus from tropical species and cultivate these more robust subtropical and temperate species.

Synthesis and comparative analysis of physiological tolerance and life-history growth traits of marine aquaculture species
H. Froehlich, R. Gentry, B. Halpern
Aquaculture, 25 April 2016, Vol. 460, pp. 75-82.  DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2016.04.018


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Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

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Posted on April 26, 2016