In a recent ABC story on the study, much was made of the threat of fish dying from hot ocean water when in fact the sample size of the component of the study which looked at the physiological stress on fish consisted of only TWO fish.
The authors admitted: “This result may reflect the small sample size of our experiments, and further work is needed to determine the effect of increasing temperature on swimming activity in banded morwong.”
(See abstract and full text of study here in Nature Climate Change)
Unfortunately Dr Thresher of the University did not inform the listeners to the ABC of this significant limitation to the study and its findings.
and ABC didn't bother to ask!
Here's a few extracts from the paper showing the number of fish used for a critical part of the study was 2 (n=2).
"This thermal limit is also suggested by results from preliminary (n=2 fish) activity experiments for fish from the southernmost (coldest) population where we observed fish performance at the species’ typical spawning swimming speed (~1ms−1; period of highest activity) and temperatures ranging from 11 to 18°C (thermal range at sampling site, see Methods)."
"Spawning swimming speeds were determined in the field, off the southeast coast of Tasmania (seeSupplementary Fig. S1), using fish fitted with telemetered accelerometer tags. Preliminary observations of swimming performance in the laboratory were conducted at 11–14°C, 14–16°C and 16–18°C for each fish (n=2 fish and >12 trials, weight=1.8 and 2.7kg), following the procedures described in ref 30."