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Study: Fish will start losing sense of smell as carbon dioxide levels rise

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Just as humans rely on their sense of smell to detect suitable food and habitats, avoid danger, and find potential mates, so do fish – only instead of sniffing scent molecules floating through the air, they use their nostrils to sense chemicals suspended in water.

But fish will start losing their ability to detect different smells by the end of the century if atmospheric carbon dioxide levels keep rising, scientists warned in a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

For fish, the sense of smell is “particularly important when visibility is not great”, said Dr Cosima Porteus, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter in London and the lead author of the study, which examined elevated carbon dioxide levels and their effects on olfactory sensitivity, gene expression and behaviour in European sea bass.