The early life stages of the orange-spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides, exhibit robustness to hypercapnia

Ocean acidification (OA) and other climate change-induced environmental alterations are resulting in unprecedented rates of environmental degradation. This environmental change is generally thought to be too fast for adaptation using evolutionary process dependent on natural selection, and thus, resilience may be related to the presence of existing tolerant genotypes and species. Estuaries undergo natural partial pressure carbon dioxide (pCO2) fluctuations, with levels regularly exceeding predicted end of the century values. In this study, we use the estuarine orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides) to explore the intrinsic resilience to elevated pCO2. Our sensitivity endpoints included: survival, heart rate, growth, and yolk consumption. Furthermore, we attempted to determine whether their acid–base regulatory machinery was plastic in response to elevated pCO2 by analysing the gene expression of key transporters and ionocyte density. Survival was not significantly altered by exposure to elevated pCO2. Interestingly, the heart rate was significantly elevated at both 1500 and 3100 μatm exposure. However, other metrics of energetic consumption, such as yolk consumption and growth, were not significantly altered. Furthermore, we found no changes in gene expression in vha, nhe3, and nbc, as well as ionocyte density at elevated pCO2. Overall, these results support the hypothesis that estuarine species are resilient to the impacts of OA.

Lonthair J., Hwang P.-P. & Esbaugh A. J., 2020. The early life stages of the orange-spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides, exhibit robustness to hypercapnia. ICES Journal of Marine Science fsaa023. doi: 10.1093/icesjms/fsaa023. Article (subscription required).

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