Reproductive trade-offs in a temperate reef fish under high pCO2 levels


•Reproductive activity in two-spotted goby is stimulated under high  pCO2  levels.
•Females under high  pCO2  levels produce more eggs.
•Larvae of parental pairs under high  pCO2  levels hatch smaller.
•Different energy allocation strategies are used by females under .
•High  pCO2  levels.


Fishes are currently facing novel types of anthropogenic stressors that have never experienced in their evolutionary history, such as ocean acidification. Under these stressful conditions, energetically costly processes, such as reproduction, may be sacrificed for increased chances of survival. This trade-off does not only affect the organism itself but may result in reduced offspring fitness. In the present study, the effects of exposure to high  pCO2 levels were tested on the reproductive performance of a temperate species, the two-spotted goby, Gobiusculus flavescens. Breeding pairs were kept under control (∼600 μatm, pH∼ 8.05) and high  pCO2  levels (∼2300 μatm, pH∼ 7.60) conditions for a 4-month period. Additionally, oxidative stress and energy metabolism-related biomarkers were measured. Results suggest that reproductive activity is stimulated under high  pCO2  levels. Parental pairs in the simulated ocean acidification conditions exhibited increased reproductive output, with 50% more clutches and 44% more eggs per clutch than pairs under control conditions. However, there was an apparent trade-off between offspring number and size, as larvae of parental pairs under high  pCO2  levels hatched significantly smaller, suggesting differences in parental provisioning, which could be related to the fact that these females produce more eggs. Moreover, results support the hypothesis of different energy allocation strategies used by females under high  pCO2  conditions. These changes might, ultimately, affect individual fitness and population replenishment.

Faria A. M., Lopes A. F., Silva C. S. E., Novais S. C., Lemos M. F. L. & Gonçalves E. J., in press. Reproductive trade-offs in a temperate reef fish under high  pCO2 levels. Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book