Ocean acidification decreases growth and development in American lobster (Homarus americanus) larvae

Ocean acidification resulting from the global increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is emerging as a threat to marine species, including crustaceans. Fisheries involving the American lobster (Homarus americanus) are economically important in eastern Canada and United States. Based on ocean pH levels predicted for 2100, this study examined the effects of reduced seawater pH on the growth (carapace length) and development (time to molt) of American lobster larvae throughout stages I–III until reaching stage IV (postlarvae). Each stage is reached after a
corresponding molt. Larvae were reared from stage I in either acidified (pH = 7.7) or control (pH = 8.1) seawater. Organisms in acidified seawater exhibited a significantly shorter carapace length than those in control seawater after every molt. Larvae in acidified seawater also took significantly more time to reach each molt than control larvae. In nature, slowed progress through larval molts could result in greater time in the water column, where larvae are vulnerable to pelagic predators, potentially leading to reduced benthic recruitment. Evidence was also found of reduced survival when reaching the last stage under acidified conditions. Thus, from the perspective of larval ecology, it is possible that future ocean acidification may harm this important marine resource.

Keppel E. A., Scrosati R. A. & Courtenay  S. C., 2012. Ocean acidification decreases growth and development in American lobster (Homarus americanus) larvae. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 44: 61–66. Article.


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