Modelling ecological phenomena on the basis of energy and materials available in the environment provides a deeper understanding of the environmental constraints to life. Reef fishes represent the most species-rich group of vetebrates and occupy diverse habitats that vary substantially in temperature across the globe. Diego Barneche Rosado produced models that found growth and metabolic rates of reef fishes were determined by body mass and temperature.
Diego developed and implemented innovative techniques for modelling that are important to understanding how the marine world is likely to change. Modelling techniques greatly improve forecasting the effects of a changing world on marine fishes, which is fundamental to understanding the structure and dynamics of marine ecosystems. Marine fishes comprise the largest single source of protein for human consumption.
Diego discovered that many tropical fish are already approaching a heat ceiling in respect to their metabolic rates. This finding suggests that ocean warming may have a substantial impact on wild fish stocks if species are unable to adapt quickly. Diego showed that the number of species present in a community is the primary driver of population abundance. Because tropical communities have considerably more species, there is a strong suggestion that tropical species are at a generally higher risk of extinction due to lower population abundances as compared to temperate species.