Legacy of multiple stressors: responses of gastropod larvae and juveniles to ocean acidification and nutrition

Ocean acidification poses a significant threat to calcifying invertebrates by negatively influencing shell deposition and growth. An organism’s performance under ocean acidification is not determined by the susceptibility of one single life-history stage, nor is it solely controlled by the direct physical consequences of ocean acidification. Shell development by one life-history stage is sometimes a function of the pH or pCO2 levels experienced during earlier developmental stages. Furthermore, environmental factors such as access to nutrition can buffer organismal responses of calcifying invertebrates to ocean acidification, or they can function as a co-occurring stressor when access is low. We reared larvae and juveniles of the planktotrophic marine gastropod Crepidula fornicata through combined treatments of nutritional stress and low pH, and we monitored how multiple stressors endured during the larval stage affected juvenile performance. Shell growth responded non-linearly to decreasing pH, significantly declining between pH 7.6 and pH 7.5 in larvae and juveniles. Larval rearing at pH 7.5 reduced juvenile growth as a carryover effect. Larval rearing at pH 7.6 reduced subsequent juvenile growth despite the absence of a negative impact on larval growth, demonstrating a latent effect. Low larval pH magnified the impact of larval nutritional stress on competence for metamorphosis and increased carryover effects of larval nutrition on juvenile growth. Trans-life-cycle effects of larval nutrition were thus modulated by larval exposure to ocean acidification.

Bogan S. N., McMahon J. B., Pechenik J. A. & Pires A., in press. Legacy of multiple stressors: responses of gastropod larvae and juveniles to ocean acidification and nutrition. The Biological Bulletin. Article (subscription required).

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