Incubation under climatewarming affects behavioral lateralisation in Port Jackson sharks

Catarina Vila Pouca*, Connor Gervais, Joshua Reed, Culum Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change is warming the world's oceans at an unprecedented rate. Under predicted end-of-century temperatures, many teleosts show impaired development and altered critical behaviors, including behavioral lateralisation. Since laterality is an expression of brain functional asymmetries, changes in the strength and direction of lateralisation suggest that rapid climate warming might impact brain development and function. However, despite the implications for cognitive functions, the potential effects of elevated temperature in lateralisation of elasmobranch fishes are unknown. We incubated and reared Port Jackson sharks at current and projected end-of-century temperatures and measured preferential detour responses to left or right. Sharks incubated at elevated temperature showed stronger absolute laterality and were significantly biased towards the right relative to sharks reared at current temperature. We propose that animals reared under elevated temperatures might have more strongly lateralized brains to cope with deleterious effects of climate change on brain development and growth. However, far more research in elasmobranch lateralisation is needed before the significance of these results can be fully comprehended. This study provides further evidence that elasmobranchs are susceptible to the effects of future ocean warming, though behavioral mechanisms might allow animals to compensate for some of the challenges imposed by climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number184
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • laterality
  • climate change
  • temperature
  • development
  • elasmobranchs

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