End of the century CO2 concentrations do not have a negative effect on vital rates of Calanus finmarchicus, an ecologically critical planktonic species in North Atlantic ecosystems

The Subarctic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, is an ecologically critical foundation species throughout the North Atlantic Ocean. Any change in the abundance and distribution of C. finmarchicus would have profound effects on North Atlantic pelagic ecosystems and the services that they support, particularly on the coastal shelves located at the southern margins of the species’ range. We tested the hypothesis that the physiological rates and processes of C. finmarchicus, determining its vital rates, are unaffected by increases in CO2 concentration predicted to occur in the surface waters of the ocean during the next 100 years. We reared C. finmarchicus from eggs to adults at a control (580 µatm, the ambient concentration at the laboratory’s seawater intake) and at predicted mid-range (1200 µatm) and high (1900 µatm) pCO2. There was no significant effect of pCO2 on development times, lipid accumulation, feeding rate, or metabolic rate. Small but significant treatment effects were found in body length and mass (in terms of dry, carbon and nitrogen mass), notably a somewhat larger body size at the mid-pCO2 treatment; that is, a putatively beneficial effect. Based on these results, and a review of other studies of Calanus, we conclude that the present parameterizations of vital rates in models of C. finmarchicus population dynamics, used to generate scenarios of abundance and distribution of this species under future conditions, do not require an “ocean acidification effect” adjustment. A review of research on planktonic copepods indicates that, with only a few exceptions, impacts of increased CO2 are small at the levels predicted to occur during the next century.

Runge J. A., Fields D. M., Thompson C. R. S., Shema S. D., Bjelland R. M., Durif C. M. F., Berit Skiftesvik A. & Browman H. I., 2016. End of the century CO2 concentrations do not have a negative effect on vital rates of Calanus finmarchicus, an ecologically critical planktonic species in North Atlantic ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(3):937-950. Article (subscription required).


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