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Jul 18, 2014 04:19 AM EDT

Atlantic salmon Shows Ability to Adjust to Warmer Temperatures, Study

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Atlantic salmon have the ability to adapt to warmer temperatures consistent with climate change, according to a study by University of British Columbia.

For the study, researchers compared the populations of wild salmon from two European rivers - cold-water population from Norway's northern Alta River with warm-water populations from France's Dordogne River.

Eggs from both populations were raised at 12 or 20 degree C at the University of Oslo.

Researchers said that despite belonging to different natural environments, both populations displayed similar capabilities when reared in warmer temperatures.

They found that when reared at 12 degree C temperature, salmon from both populations developed cardiac arrhythmias at 21 to 23 degree C, after a maximum heart rate of 150 beats per minute. However, creatures raised at 20 degree C developed cardiac arrhythmias at an astonishing 27.5 degree C, after the heart rate reached 200 beats per minute.

Researchers concluded that increasing the fish's acclimation temperature by 8 degree C, their temperature tolerance improved by 6 degree C.

"The results are surprising," Tony Farrell, Chair in Sustainable Aquaculture, said in a statement. "A fish faced with uncomfortably warm temperatures might relocate or even die if it is too extreme. Here we have evidence for warm acclimation of a commercially and culturally important fish species."

The finding is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Contrary to Salmon, a tiny sea creature faces threats of extinction as it struggles to adjust to sea temperature changes.

A 2013 study, led by Deakin University in Australia and Swansea University in the UK, found that population of a species of cold-water plankton in North Atlantic that lives one year or less is facing significant declination as waters continue to warm.

"Lots of people speculated that animals with short generation times will simply adapt to change," Graeme Hays, a marine scientist, said. "We show that is not the case."

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