Scientists are trying to understand how the Pacific Ocean’s bonito species, which is a food source for Pacific bluefin tuna, is adapting to a warming climate and changing marine life.
The species is also adapting to the effects of climate change, including the effects that warming oceans will have on their ability to spawn and survive.
The research, conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii, was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.
Bonito species have long been used in traditional medicine to treat diseases of the liver, heart and other organs.
But recent research has shown that they can be a key part of the reef ecosystem, which provides food for other fish and other marine life such as crabs, lobsters and sea urchins.
Scientists are finding that the bonito’s ability to thrive under warmer water and the change in temperature will be critical to their survival, said senior author Jennifer Fagan, a graduate student in oceanography at the university.
Bonito fisheries in the Pacific, however, have not been studied closely because of the limited research available.
The researchers used a method called remote sensing to track the movements of the bonitos in the ocean.
Using the satellite tracking system, they monitored the movements, feeding and reproduction activity of the Pacific bonito populations.
Fagan and her colleagues found that the Pacific population was changing, with populations that had been on the bottom of the ocean for generations beginning to move up and down the food chain, with more and more of the fish eating bonito flesh.
While some of the populations had grown in size, some were shrinking in numbers, and some had already disappeared from the ocean, Fagan said.
She said these changes are likely due to changes in the food web.
“They are eating the food that’s available to them, which means they have less nutrients,” Fagan told The Associated Press.
“This is the opposite of what you would expect to see from a bonito population that’s growing up in the bottom,” she said.
Fagan said the study has a number of implications for how to protect the species and its ecosystem, as well as how it might be possible to use bonito as a food supplement.
Many marine mammals depend on the fish as their primary food source.
Fagan’s research suggests that changing the food supply could make the species vulnerable to disease and extinction.
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