Effects of natural current pH variability on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus larvae development and settlement

Highlights

• We assessed the sensitivities of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus during its larvae development and settlement undergoing two different daily pH frequencies.
• Experimental climatic scenarios covered present natural variability.
• Responses on different life stages of species were investigated.
• Larvae development was slightly enhanced by moderated fluctuating pH regimes.
• Our results highlight the importance of considering the natural current variability of pH in the species’ niche to a better understanding of future scenarios.

Abstract

One of the most important environmental factors controlling the distribution, physiology, morphology and behaviour of marine invertebrates is ocean pH. In the last decade, the effects of decreasing ocean pH as a result of climate change processes (i.e. ocean acidification) on marine organisms have been target of much research. However, the effects of natural pH variability in the species’ niche have been largely neglected. Marine coastal habitats are characterized by a high environmental variability and, in some cases, organisms are already coping with pH values predicted by the end of the century. It is thought that because of adaptation or acclimation to natural environmental variability, intertidal species may have some resilience to future changes. In this study, we explored the sensitivities of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus during its larvae development and settlement undergoing two different daily pH frequencies (12 h fluctuation from 7.7 to 8.1 units of pH, and constant pH treatment of 8.1 units of pH) that have been currently recorded in the sampling region (Canary Islands). Results showed that, despite larvae development was slightly enhanced by moderated fluctuating pH regimes, P. lividus larva was able to develop normally in both, fluctuating and constant, pH environments. Results of the settlement experiment showed very clear patterns since postlarvae settlement was only successful when a covering of algae was added, regardless of the pH fluctuation applied.

Garcia E., Clemente S. & Hernández J. C., in press. Effects of natural current pH variability on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus larvae development and settlement. Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).

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