The group includes species important to fisheries such as herring, anchovies and pilchards. However, the study findings have implications for all fish, the researchers say.
The team used statistical analyzes of a large data set of fish species found around the world to study their evolution over the past 150 million years. Their study provides the first solid evidence of how historical fluctuations in global temperatures have affected the evolution of this species.
It shows that, historically, warmer waters had consistently smaller herring, traveled the shortest distances at lower speeds, and exhibited the lowest rate of speciation, in other words, were much slower in forming and new species.
So far, the maximum average ocean temperature rise experienced by fish has been 0.8°C per thousand years, per 1000 years. This is well below the current warming, which according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been 0.18 degrees per decade, every 10 years since 1981.
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