Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina

Few studies to date have investigated the effects of ocean acidification on non-reef forming marine invertebrates with non-feeding larvae. Here, we exposed adults of the bryozoan Bugula neritina and their larvae to lowered pH. We monitored spawning, larval swimming, settlement, and post-settlement individual sizes at two pHs (7.9 vs. 7.6) and settlement dynamics alone over a broader pH range (8.0 down to 6.5). Our results show that spawning was not affected by adult exposure (48 h at pH 7.6), larvae swam 32% faster and the newly-settled individuals grew significantly larger (5%) at pH 7.6 than in the control. Although larvae required more time to settle when pH was lowered, reduced pH was not lethal, even down to pH 6.5. Overall, this fouling species appeared to be robust to acidification, and yet, indirect effects such as prolonging the pelagic larval duration could increase predation risk, and might negatively impact population dynamics.

Pecquet A., Dorey N. & Chan K. Y. K., in press. Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Article (subscription required).


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