Larval ecology in the face of changing climate – impacts of ocean warming and ocean acidification

Ocean warming and acidification are major climate change stressors for marine invertebrate larvae, and their impacts differ between habitats and regions. In many regions species with pelagic propagules are on the move, exhibiting poleward trends as temperatures rise and ocean currents change. Larval sensitivity to warming varies among species, influencing their invasive potential. Broadly distributed species with wide developmental thermotolerances appear best able to avail of the new opportunities provided by warming. Ocean acidification is a multi-stressor in itself and the impacts of its covarying stressors differ among taxa. Increased pCO2 is the key stressor impairing calcification in echinoid larvae while decreased mineral saturation is more important for calcification in bivalve larvae. Non-feeding, non-calcifying larvae appear more resilient to warming and acidification. Some species may be able to persist through acclimatization/adaptation to produce resilient offspring. Understanding the capacity for adaptation/acclimatization across generations is important to predicting the future species composition of marine communities.

Byrne M., Ross P. M., Dworjanyn S. A. & Parker L., 2017. Larval ecology in the face of changing climate – impacts of ocean warming and ocean acidification. In: Carrier T., Reitzel A. & Heyland A. (Eds.), Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Invertebrate Larvae. Oxford University Press. Book chapter (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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