Temperature effects on oxygen thresholds for hypoxia in marine benthic organisms

Raquel Vaquer-Sunyer*, Carlos M. Duarte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


The effect of warming on the oxygen requirements and the survival of benthic organisms under hypoxia was tested using a meta-analysis of published results of experiments evaluating the effects of temperature on the median lethal time and median lethal concentration of benthic macrofauna under hypoxia. The meta-analysis confirmed that survival times under hypoxia were reduced by on average 74% and that median lethal concentration increased by on average 16% when marine benthic organisms were exposed to warmer temperatures. Warming reduced survival times of marine benthic macrofauna under hypoxia by a median of 3.95±1.67h°C-1 and increased the oxygen thresholds for hypoxia-driven mortality by a median of 1.02±0.15% saturation°C-1 or 0.07±0.01mgO2L-1°C-1. The corresponding Q10 values averaged 3.01±0.29 for the median survival time and 2.09±0.20 for the median lethal oxygen concentration. Use of these Q10 values predicts that the 4°C warming expected during the 21st century will lead to survival times 35.6% lower under hypoxia and that the threshold oxygen concentrations for high mortality to occur will increase by, on average, 25.5% if bottom water temperature increased by 4°C. Hence, ocean warming is expected to increase the vulnerability of benthic macrofauna to reduced oxygen concentrations and expand the area of coastal ecosystems affected by hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1788-1797
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal change biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Benthic community
  • Global warming
  • Hypoxia
  • Impacts
  • Oxygen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • General Environmental Science


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