Oyster reproduction is compromised by acidification experienced seasonally in coastal regions

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising during the past century, leading to ocean acidification (OA). Coastal and estuarine habitats experience annual pH variability that vastly exceeds the magnitude of long-term projections in open ocean regions. Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reproduction season coincides with periods of low pH occurrence in estuaries, thus we investigated effects of moderate (pH 7.5, pCO2 2260 µatm) and severe OA (pH 7.1, pCO2 5584 µatm; and 6.7, pCO2 18480 µatm) on oyster gametogenesis, fertilization, and early larval development successes. Exposure at severe OA during gametogenesis caused disruption in oyster reproduction. Oogenesis appeared to be more sensitive compared to spermatogenesis. However, Eastern oyster reproduction was resilient to moderate OA projected for the near-future. In the context of projected climate change exacerbating seasonal acidification, OA of coastal habitats could represent a significant bottleneck for oyster reproduction which may have profound negative implications for coastal ecosystems reliant on this keystone species.

Boulais M., Chenevert K. J., Taylor Demey A., Darrow E. S., Raine Robison M., Park Roberts J. & Volety A., 2017. Oyster reproduction is compromised by acidification experienced seasonally in coastal regions. Scientific Reports 7: 13276. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-13480-3. Article.

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