The effect of environmental stressors on the early development of the Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus (L.)

The marine environment is changing and becoming less stable as a result of direct (e.g. lower pH) and indirect (e.g. salinity fluctuations from changing rainfall) effects of climate change. The larval stages may be a bottleneck for reproductive success and recruitment, therefore the potential for environmental stressors to impact upon larval recruitment is high; the ability to tolerate environmental stress in early life history is crucial to an individual’s overall fitness. This study investigated the effect of hypercapnia and salinity stress on the early life stages of the Norway Lobster Nephrops norvegicus. Sensitivity to hypercapnia was shown to be highly brood specific with large differences in mortality between broods under hypercapnic stress. Furthermore, this environmental stressor was demonstrated to increase the energetic demand on the larvae, which could potentially have a negative effect later in development. Salinity stress experiments were not designed to test brood specific effects but did demonstrate increased energy usage (higher MR and lower weight) under salinity stress. Although the larvae were tolerant to present levels of salinity stress future changes in this stressor may alter species distribution.

This study demonstrated that environmental stressors have the potential to have a large effect on future recruitment. Further, future studies need to consider mechanisms that affect an individual’s tolerance from conception, such as epigenetics, maternal provisioning and genetic factors, to determine what makes some individuals tolerant where others are not.

Wood H.L., Eriksson S.P., Nordborg M. & Styf H.K., 2015. The effect of environmental stressors on the early development of the Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus (L.). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 473: 35–42. Article (subscription required).


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