Subtle but significant effects of CO2 acidified seawater on embryos of the intertidal snail, Littorina obtusata

Our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification on whole organism function is growing, but most current information is for adult stages of development. Here, we show the effects of reduced pH seawater (pH 7.6) on aspects of the development, physiology and behaviour of encapsulated embryos of the marine intertidal gastropod Littorina obtusata. We found reduced viability and increased development times under reduced pH conditions, and the embryos had significantly altered behaviours and physiologies. In acidified seawater, embryos spent more time stationary, had slower rotation rates, spent less time crawling, but increased their movement periodicity compared with those maintained under control conditions. Larval and adult heart rates were significantly lower in acidified seawater, and hatchling snails had an altered shell morphology (lateral length and spiral shell length) compared to control snails. Our findings show that ocean acidification may have multiple, subtle effects during the early development of marine animals that may have implications for their survival beyond those predicted using later life stages.



Ellis R. P., Bersey J., Rundle S. D., Hall-Spencer J. M. & Spicer, J. I., 2009. Subtle but significant effects of CO2 acidified seawater on embryos of the intertidal snail, Littorina obtusata. Aquatic Biology 5(1):41-48. Abstract.

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