Phenotypic plasticity is expected to play a major adaptive role in the response of species to ocean acidification (OA), by providing broader tolerances to changes in pCO2 conditions. However, tolerances and sensitivities to future OA may differ among populations within a species because of their particular environmental context and genetic backgrounds. Here, using the climatic variability hypothesis (CVH), we explored this conceptual framework in populations of the sea urchin Loxechinus albus across natural fluctuating pCO2/pH environments. Although elevated pCO2 affected the morphology, physiology, development and survival of sea urchin larvae, the magnitude of these effects differed among populations. These differences were consistent with the predictions of the CVH showing greater tolerance to OA in populations experiencing greater local variation in seawater pCO2/pH. Considering geographical differences in plasticity, tolerances and sensitivities to increased pCO2 will provide more accurate predictions for species responses to future OA.
Gaitán-Espitia J. D., Villanueva P. A., Lopez J., Torres R., Navarro J. M. & Bacigalupe L. D., 2017. Spatio-temporal environmental variation mediates geographical differences in phenotypic responses to ocean acidification. Biology Letters 13(2). Article (subscription required).