Effects of ocean warming and acidification on embryos and non-calcifying larvae of the invasive sea star Patiriella regularis

Little is known about the effects of potential synergies between concurrent ocean warming and acidification on marine benthos. We investigated the effects of warming and acidification on development to the non-calcifying larval stage in the sea star Patiriella regularis, in embryos reared from fertilization in present and future (2100+) conditions. Fertilization using gametes from multiple parents, to represent populations of spawners, was resilient to both stressors, as were cleavage stage embryos. Warming increased developmental rate across all pH levels. For blastulae, there was a complex interaction between stressors, with +4°C/pH 7.6 lethal to many embryos. A 4°C warming increased mortality by the gastrulation stage by 13 to 25% across all pH levels. In conjunction with warming, pH 7.6 increased mortality by 25 to 27% across all temperatures. For embryos that reached the 3 d bipinnaria stage, warming reduced the percentage of normal larvae and larval size, with no effect of acidification. These results highlight the importance of considering both warming and acidification, and effects on early embryos, in assessing life history responses to ocean change. Bipinnaria reared to Day 28 to determine the effects of acidification on non-calcifying feeding larvae provided a comparison with results for calcifying echinoplutei. pH 7.6 resulted in smaller larvae and increased mortality by 30%. After 24 d, near-future ocean acidification levels (pH 7.8) also resulted in smaller larvae. The effects of acidification in reducing growth in larvae that do not calcify indicates that the stunting response of echinoderm feeding larvae to pH/pCO2 is strongly influenced by hypercapnic changes in metabolism and teratogenic effects. The results have implications for P. regularis in its invasive range in Australia, where this species is likely to be deleteriously affected by ocean warming.

Byrne M., Gonzalez-Bernat M., Doo S., Foo S., Soars N. & Lamare M., 2013. Effects of ocean warming and acidification on embryos and non-calcifying larvae of the invasive sea star Patiriella regularis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 473:235-246. Article (subscription required).

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