Combined effects of crude oil exposure and warming on eggs and larvae of an arctic forage fish
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Climate change, along with environmental pollution, can act synergistically on an organism to amplify adverse effects of exposure. The Arctic is undergoing profound climatic change and an increase in human activity, resulting in a heightened risk of accidental oil spills. Embryos and larvae of polar cod (Boreogadus saida), a key Arctic forage fish species, were exposed to low levels of crude oil concurrently with a 2.3 °C increase in water temperature. Here we show synergistic adverse effects of increased temperature and crude oil exposure on early life stages documented by an increased prevalence of malformations and mortality in exposed larvae. The combined effects of these stressors were most prevalent in the first feeding larval stages despite embryonic exposure, highlighting potential long-term consequences of exposure for survival, growth, and reproduction. Our findings suggest that a warmer Arctic with greater human activity will adversely impact early life stages of this circumpolar forage fish.