Pontellid copepods, Labidocera spp., affected by ocean acidification: A field study at natural CO2 seeps

CO2 seeps in coral reefs were used as natural laboratories to study the impacts of ocean acidification on the pontellid copepod, Labidocera spp. Pontellid abundances were reduced by ∼70% under high-CO2 conditions. Biological parameters and substratum preferences of the copepods were explored to determine the underlying causes of such reduced abundances. Stage- and sex-specific copepod lengths, feeding ability, and egg development were unaffected by ocean acidification, thus changes in these physiological parameters were not the driving factor for reduced abundances under high-CO2 exposure. Labidocera spp. are demersal copepods, hence they live amongst reef substrata during the day and emerge into the water column at night. Deployments of emergence traps showed that their preferred reef substrata at control sites were coral rubble, macro algae, and turf algae. However, under high-CO2 conditions they no longer had an association with any specific substrata. Results from this study indicate that even though the biology of a copepod might be unaffected by high-CO2, Labidocera spp. are highly vulnerable to ocean acidification.

Smith J. N., Richter C., Fabricius K. E. & Cornils A., 2017. Pontellid copepods, Labidocera spp., affected by ocean acidification: A field study at natural CO2 seeps. PLoS ONE 12(5):e0175663. Article.

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