Cuttlefish buoyancy in response to food availability and ocean acidification

Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is expected to continue rising by 2100, leading to a decrease in ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). OA can have a direct impact on calcifying organisms, including on the cuttlebone of the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. Moreover, nutritional status has also been shown to affect the cuttlebone structure and potentially affect buoyancy. Here, we aimed to understand the combined effects of OA (980 μatm CO2) and food availability (fed vs. non-fed) on the buoyancy of cuttlefish newborns and respective cuttlebone weight/area ratio (as a proxy for calcification). Our results indicate that while OA elicited negative effects on hatching success, it did not negatively affect the cuttlebone weight/area ratio of the hatchlings—OA led to an increase in cuttlebone weight/area ratio of fed newborns (but not in unfed individuals). The proportion of “floating” (linked to buoyancy control loss) newborns was greatest under starvation, regardless of the CO2 treatment, and was associated with a drop in cuttlebone weight/area ratio. Besides showing that cuttlefish buoyancy is unequivocally affected by starvation, here, we also highlight the importance of nutritional condition to assess calcifying organisms’ responses to ocean acidification.

Otjacques E., Repolho T., Paula J. R., Simão S., Baptista M. & Rosa R., 2020. Cuttlefish buoyancy in response to food availability and ocean acidification. Biology 9(7): 147. doi: 10.3390/biology9070147. Article.

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