A combination of salinity and pH affects the recruitment of Gladioferens pectinatus (Brady) (Copepoda; Calanoida)

Carbon dioxide levels in many estuaries fluctuate and, in several cases, reach extremes much higher than those predicted for oceans by the end of the century. Moreover, estuaries are characterized by natural fluctuations in salinity, and reduced pH, from increased pCO2, exposes estuarine organisms to multiple stresses. Although the effects of low pH on the reproduction of several marine copepod species have been assessed, studies examining effects of pH in estuarine copepod species are extremely scarce. Here, we aim at understanding the reproductive response of Gladioferens pectinatus to the stress posed by both salinity and pH. G. pectinatus was exposed to salinities 2 and 10, at four different pH levels each. Our results show no impairment in the brood size, embryonic development time and hatching success under low pH levels at either salinities. However, at salinity 2, the percentage of nauplii growing into adults significantly decreased at low pH, whereas at salinity 10, no major effect was observed. We argue that the combination of osmoregulation and acidity induced stress response can affect the development of nauplii and copepodites, as well as adult recruitment, likely due to energy reallocation and molting impairment. We also argue that resilience and phenotypic plasticity highly influence the ability of different copepod species and populations to reproduce and grow under stressful combinations of environmental parameters. This study points out the importance of understanding the effects of multiple stresses or parameters on the adaptability of organisms to water acidification.

Hemraj D. A., Allais L. & Leterme S. C., in press. A combination of salinity and pH affects the recruitment of Gladioferens pectinatus (Brady) (Copepoda; Calanoida). Limnology and Oceanography. Article (subscription required).

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