Intraspecific variation in the response of the estuarine European isopod Cyathura carinata (Krøyer, 1847) to ocean acidification


• Responses of the estuarine isopod Cyathura carinata to acidification were studied in the light of future OA scenarios.

• Survival, mortality, growth rate, and metabolic parameters were differentially affected by acidification depending on the pH habitat of origin of the animals.

• CO2-seawater acidification significantly affected the lifespan of C. carinata.

• Population of C. carinata from stable pCO2 environments could be vulnerable to ocean acidification, however, those from highly pCO2 variable habitats will be able to survive.


In the present study the model isopod, Cyathura carinata were exposed to four pHNIST treatments (control: 7.9; 7.5, 7, 6.5) in order to determine the tolerance and pH threshold value this estuarine species withstand under future acidification scenarios. Seawater acidification significantly affected the lifespan of C. carinata, where population density was remarkably reduced at the lowest pH treatment. The longevity, survivorship and swimming activity (related to the acquisition of energy) of these isopods decreased with decreasing pH. Furthermore, to determine the possible metabolic plasticity of this species, the swimming activity, the Na+/K + -ATPase activity (relevant for osmoregulation process), and the RNA:DNA ratio (an indicator of fitness) were measure from two populations of C. carinata, one inhabiting a stable environment (pHNIST 7.5–8.0) and one inhabiting a fluctuating pCO2 regimes (pH 3.3–8.5) subjected to three pH treatments (7.9, 7.0 and 6.5). The population from high fluctuating pCO2 conditions showed capacity to withstand to pH 6.5, as well as higher longevity and metabolic plasticity, when compared with the population from the habitat with slight pCO2 variation. These results indicate that Cyathura population from stable environments could be vulnerable to ocean acidification because it could trigger detrimental effects on its survival energy budget, and growth. However, ocean acidification has limited effect on the energy budget and survival of C. carinata population from highly variable habitats, suggesting that they are able to cope with the elevated energy demand. The difference showed between populations is likely an indication of genetic differentiation in tolerance to ocean acidification, possibly attributable to local adaptations, which could provide the raw material necessary for adaptation to future conditions. In addition, our results suggest that when assessing marine crustacean responses to changing environments on a global scale, variability in population and metabolic responses need to be considered.

Conradi M., Sánchez-Moyano J. E., Bhuiyan M. K. A., Rodríguez-Romero A., Galotti A., Basallotee M. D., DelValls A., Parra G. & Riba I., in press. Intraspecific variation in the response of the estuarine European isopod Cyathura carinata (Krøyer, 1847) to ocean acidification. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).

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