Climate Change Shrinks Fish in Europe

Smaller creatures reproduce less, provide less food for predators
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2009 1:32 PM CDT
A fish shop displays little produce in Madrid in this June 11, 2008, file photo.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Europe’s fish are physically shrinking as water temperatures climb, according to a German study that examined everything from fish to plankton to bacteria, der Spiegel reports. Researchers don’t believe over-fishing or other factors can explain away the findings, either. “Our study provides strong evidence that temperature actually plays a major role,” they concluded.

“It’s huge,” one of the researchers says. “Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity—the capacity to reproduce.” Smaller fish also provide less meat for predators, to say nothing of seafood-loving humans. Researchers say it’s highly significant that the shrinkage hit different kinds of organisms—one recent Scottish study even suggested a similar correlation for sheep.