Development of Euphausia pacifica (krill) larvae is impaired under pCO2 levels currently observed in the Northeast Pacific

Despite the critical importance of euphausiids in marine food webs, little ocean acidification (OA) research has focused on them. Euphausia pacifica is a dominant and trophically important species of euphausiid throughout the North Pacific and the California Current Ecosystem, where low pH conditions are occurring in advance of those in the global ocean. We assessed the impact of reduced pH on the hatching and larval development of E. pacifica in the laboratory and characterized the pH to which E. pacifica eggs and larvae are currently exposed in Puget Sound, Washington (USA), a large estuary connected to the California Current. In 2 independent sets of laboratory experiments that lasted 6 to 22 d and which involved broods from 110 different females, we found that hatching is robust to a wide range of pH levels, but larval development and survival are reduced at pH levels that are currently observed within their habitat. Survival from 3 d post hatch to the calyptopis 2 stage was reduced by an average of 20% at pH 7.69 compared to pH 7.96. Even though this population experiences a range of pH conditions on seasonal and daily timescales, it may be living near the limits of its pH tolerance. Continued OA may push these organisms past their threshold, which could have cascading negative consequences for higher trophic levels.

McLaskey A. K., Keister J. E., McElhany P., Brady Olson M., Shallin Busch D., Maher M., Winans A. K., 2016. Development of Euphausia pacifica (krill) larvae is impaired under pCO2 levels currently observed in the Northeast Pacific. Marine Ecology Progress Series 555:65-78. Article.


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