Fertilisation and larval development in an Antarctic bivalve, Laternula elliptica, under reduced pH and elevated temperatures

Elevated temperatures associated with ocean warming and acidification can influence development and, ultimately, success of larval molluscs. The effect of projected oceanic changes on fertilisation and larval development in an Antarctic bivalve, Laternula elliptica, was investigated through successive larval stages at ambient temperature and pH conditions (-1.6°C and pH 7.98) and conditions representative of projections through to 2100 (-0.5°C to +0.4°C and pH 7.80 to pH 7.65). Where significant effects were detected, increased temperature had a consistently positive influence on larval development, regardless of pH level, while effects of reduced pH varied with larval stage and incubation temperature. Fertilisation was high and largely independent of stressors, with no loss of gamete viability. Mortality was unaffected at all development stages under experimental conditions. Elevated temperatures reduced occurrences of abnormalities in D-larvae and accelerated larval development through late veliger and D-larval stages, with D-larvae occurring 5 d sooner at 0.4°C compared to ambient temperature. Reduced pH did not affect occurrences of abnormalities in larvae, but it slowed the development of calcifying stages. More work is required to investigate the effects of developmental delays of the magnitude seen here in order to better determine the ecological relevance of these changes on longer term larval and juvenile success.

Bylenga C. H., Cummings V. J. & Ryan K. G., 2015. Fertilisation and larval development in an Antarctic bivalve, Laternula elliptica, under reduced pH and elevated temperatures. Marine Ecology Progress Series 536: 187-201. Article (subscription required).


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