Sharing the water column: physiological mechanisms underlying species-specific habitat use in tunas

Diego Bernal, Richard W. Brill, Kathryn A. Dickson, Holly Shiels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

326 Downloads (Pure)


Tuna species support some of the world’s largest commercial and recreational fisheries. Their extensive migratory patterns expose them to multiple national and international fisheries and fishery management regimes. Several prized species have become the focus of global conservation efforts and there is a growing worldwide interest in establishing optimal strategies for sustainable tuna fisheries. Although this task has proven to be very challenging, it has taken on a new sense of urgency in the face of the potential effects of global climate change. A better understanding of the interactions between environmental conditions and tuna physiology and how they affect tuna behavior will offer population and stock assessment modelers and fisheries biologists a more mechanistic understanding of tuna distribution patterns and may help predict changes in both geographic and depthrelated movement patterns. Indeed, physiological data comprise a growing component of multi-trait analysis approaches to species conservation. Our review aims to summarize what is known about differences among tuna species in distribution patterns, tolerances to environmental conditions, and physiological characteristics that correlate with the capacity to inhabit cooler (deeper, higher latitude) and even hypoxic waters. To achieve this goal, we discuss how these physiological traits are associated with habitat partitioning within the three-dimensional oceanic environment and with niche expansion into cooler and hypoxic waters. We also point out areas where additional research is needed to predict more accurately how future changes in oceanographic conditions will affect the distributions and movement patterns of tunas and their availability to fisheries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Early online date15 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cardiac physiology
  • Digestion
  • Diving
  • Endothermy
  • hypoxia
  • Metabolism
  • Movement patterns
  • Swimming
  • Thermoregulation
  • Vision

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Sustainable Futures


Dive into the research topics of 'Sharing the water column: physiological mechanisms underlying species-specific habitat use in tunas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this