Acclimatisation and adaptive capacity of echinoderms in response to ocean acidification and warming

Future ocean acidification and warming pose a substantial threat to the viability of some marine populations. In order to persist, marine species will need to acclimate or adapt to the forecasted changes. Recent research into adaptive capacity of marine species has identified mechanisms of non-genetic inheritance including trans-generational plasticity as important sources of resilience.

Based on literature indicating that echinoderms are tolerant to moderate increases in temperature and seawater pCO2, this study hypothesises three outcomes of long-term exposure to combined ocean acidification and warming:

1. Echinoderms possess the genetic capacity to adapt over long time-scales to
predicted levels of combined ocean acidification and warming.
2. Echinoderms possess the physiological capability to acclimatize to ocean
acidification and warming over long time-scales without a significant cost to
metabolic energy budget.
3. After long-term exposure to ocean acidification and warming, echinoderm parents would alter the phenotype (Anticipatory Parental Effect) of their offspring to increase fitness in the F1 generation in response to the environment to which theparents were exposed.

Kate Sparks, 2018. Acclimatisation and adaptive capacity of echinoderms in response to ocean acidification and warming. PhD thesis, University of Otago.  284 p. Thesis.

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