Metabolic recovery and compensatory shell growth of juvenile Pacific geoduck Panopea generosa following short-term exposure to acidified seawater

While acute stressors can be detrimental, environmental stress conditioning can improve performance. To test the hypothesis that physiological status is altered by stress conditioning, we subjected juvenile Pacific geoduck, Panopea generosa, to repeated exposures of elevated pCO2 in a commercial hatchery setting followed by a period in ambient common garden. Respiration rate and shell length were measured for juvenile geoduck periodically throughout short-term repeated reciprocal exposure periods in ambient (~550 μatm) or elevated (~2400 μatm) pCO2 treatments and in common, ambient conditions, 5 months after exposure. Short-term exposure periods comprised an initial 10-day exposure followed by 14 days in ambient before a secondary 6-day reciprocal exposure. The initial exposure to elevated pCO2 significantly reduced respiration rate by 25% relative to ambient conditions, but no effect on shell growth was detected. Following 14 days in common garden, ambient conditions, reciprocal exposure to elevated or ambient pCO2 did not alter juvenile respiration rates, indicating ability for metabolic recovery under subsequent conditions. Shell growth was negatively affected during the reciprocal treatment in both exposure histories; however, clams exposed to the initial elevated pCO2 showed compensatory growth with 5.8% greater shell length (on average between the two secondary exposures) after 5 months in ambient conditions. Additionally, clams exposed to the secondary elevated pCO2 showed 52.4% increase in respiration rate after 5 months in ambient conditions. Early exposure to low pH appears to trigger carryover effects suggesting bioenergetic re-allocation facilitates growth compensation. Life stage-specific exposures to stress can determine when it may be especially detrimental, or advantageous, to apply stress conditioning for commercial production of this long-lived burrowing clam.

Gurr S. J., Vadopalas B., Roberts S. B. & Putnam H.M., 2020. Metabolic recovery and compensatory shell growth of juvenile Pacific geoduck Panopea generosa following short-term exposure to acidified seawater. Conservation Physiology 8(1): coaa024. doi:10.1093/conphys/coaa024. Article.

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