Increasingly high levels of anthropogenic CO2 are quickly dissolving into the ocean and altering its chemistry. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates for near-future temperature and pH levels in our oceans are of great concern. Current research has focused on assessing how organisms will respond to the acidification and warming temperatures. Some marine invertebrates that spawn their gametes into the ocean have shown vulnerability to these changes resulting in decreased fertilization success. This paper examines the effects of these variables on fertilization success and early development of the sea urchin, Lytechinus pictus. Spawning was induced under multiple combinations of temperatures and pCO2. Fertilization success was determined by the proportion of eggs that showed successful early development. While later development of L. pictus has been previously investigated, this is the first study to investigate their fertilization success with increased ocean temperature and acidification. Fertilization success increased with rising temperatures although aberrant development also increased with temperature over time. If the expected future ocean conditions are capable of affecting early development, urchin populations may show a decline, potentially causing ecological problems.
Jones B., 2011. Effects of pH and temperature on fertilization and early development in the sea urchin, Lytechinus pictus. UCSB McNair Scholars Research Journal 1: 14-29. Article.