Effects of low pCO2 conditions on sea urchin larval size

Ocean acidification results from an increase in the concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) impacts on marine calcifying species, which is predicted to become more pronounced in the future. By the end of this century, atmospheric pCO2 levels will have doubled relative to the pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. However, the effects of pre-industrial pCO2 levels on marine organisms remain largely unknown. In this study, we investigated the effects of pre-industrial pCO2 conditions on the size of the pluteus larvae of sea urchins, which are known to be vulnerable to ocean acidification. The larval size of Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus significantly increased when reared at pre-industrial pCO2 level relative to the present one, and the size of Anthocidaris crassispina larvae decreased as the pCO2 levels increased from the pre-industrial level to the near future ones after 3 days’ exposure. In this study, it is suggested that echinoid larvae responded to pre-industrial pCO2 levels. Ocean acidification may be affecting some sensitive marine calcifiers even at the present pCO2 level.

Suwa R., Nojiri Y., Ono T. & Shirayama Y., in press. Effects of low pCO2 conditions on sea urchin larval size. Marine Ecology. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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