Effect of CO2-related acidification on aspects of the larval development of the European lobster, Homarus gammarus (L.)

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 results in a reduction in pH termed “Ocean Acidification” (OA). Comparatively little attention has been given to the effect of OA on the early life history stages of marine animals. Consequently, we investigated the effect of culture in CO2-acidified sea water (approx. 1200 ppm, i.e. average values predicted using IPCC 2007 A1F1 emissions scenarios for year 2100) on early larval stages of an economically important crustacean, the European lobster Homarus gammarus. Culture in CO2-acidified sea water did not significantly affect carapace length or development of H. gammarus. However, there was a reduction in carapace mass during the final stage of larval development in CO2-acidified sea water. This co-occurred with a reduction in exoskeletal mineral (calcium and magnesium) content of the carapace. As the control and high CO2 treatments were not undersaturated with respect to any of the calcium carbonate polymorphs measured, the physiological alterations we record are most likely the result of acidosis or hypercapnia interfering with normal homeostatic function, and not a direct impact on the carbonate supply-side of calcification per se. Thus despite there being no observed effect on survival, carapace length, or zoeal progression, OA related (indirect) disruption of calcification and carapace mass might still adversely affect the competitive fitness and recruitment success of larval lobsters with serious consequences for population dynamics and marine ecosystem function.



Arnold, K. E., Findlay, H. S., Spicer, J. I., Daniels, C. L., & Boothroyd, D., 2009. Effect of CO2-related acidification on aspects of the larval development of the European lobster, Homarus gammarus (L.). Biogeosciences Discussions. 6(2): 3087-3107. Article.

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