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Warming alters the body shape of European perch Perca fluviatilis

Journal article
Authors P. K. Rowinski
F. Mateos-Gonzalez
Erik Sandblom
F. Jutfelt
Andreas Ekström
L. F. Sundstrom
Published in Journal of Fish Biology
Volume 87
Issue 5
Pages 1234-1247
ISSN 0022-1112
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 1234-1247
Language en
Keywords climate change, fish morphology, geometric morphometrics, ontogeny, phenotypic plasticity, cooling water discharge, climate-change, geometric morphometrics, morphological variation, feeding-activity, gadus-morhua, crucian carp, sea bass, temperature, growth, Fisheries, Marine & Freshwater Biology
Subject categories Zoology


The consequences of elevated temperature on body shape were investigated by comparing European perch Perca fluviatilis from the Forsmark area of the Baltic Sea to P. fluviatilis from a nearby Biotest enclosure. The Biotest is a man-made enclosure within the Baltic Sea that has received warm water from a nuclear power plant since 1980, resulting in temperatures that are elevated 5-10 degrees C relative to the surrounding Baltic Sea. Sampled fish ranged from young-of-the-year to 14years. Geometric morphometrics and multivariate statistical analysis revealed significant morphological differences between individuals of P. fluviatilis from these two habitats. Most importantly, relative shape changed with size, with small individuals of P. fluviatilis from Biotest being characterized by a deeper body shape and a larger caudal peduncle than the smaller Baltic individuals. In large specimens, smaller differences were found with Biotest individuals being more slender than Baltic individuals. These results show that, in order to have a full understanding of the biological effects of elevated temperatures, studies that cover the entire size range of organisms will be important. Apart from the direct influence of temperature on growth rate and body shape, other ecological factors affected by temperature are discussed as possible contributors to the observed differences between the two populations.

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