Individual and population-level responses to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is predicted to have detrimental effects on many marine organisms and ecological processes. Despite growing evidence for direct impacts on specific species, few studies have simultaneously considered the effects of ocean acidification on individuals (e.g. consequences for energy budgets and resource partitioning) and population level demographic processes. Here we show that ocean acidification increases energetic demands on gastropods resulting in altered energy allocation, i.e. reduced shell size but increased body mass. When scaled up to the population level, long-term exposure to ocean acidification altered population demography, with evidence of a reduction in the proportion of females in the population and genetic signatures of increased variance in reproductive success among individuals. Such increased variance enhances levels of short-term genetic drift which is predicted to inhibit adaptation. Our study indicates that even against a background of high gene flow, ocean acidification is driving individual- and population-level changes that will impact eco-evolutionary trajectories.

Harvey B. P., McKeown N. J., Rastrick S. P. S., Bertolini C., Foggo A., Graham H., Hall-Spencer J. M., Milazzo M., Shaw P. W., Small D. P. & Moore P. J., 2016. Individual and population-level responses to ocean acidification. Scientific Reports 6:20194. Article.

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