Temperature and salinity, not acidification, predict near-future larval growth and larval habitat suitability of Olympia oysters in the Salish Sea

Most invertebrates in the ocean begin their lives with planktonic larval phases that are critical for dispersal and distribution of these species. Larvae are particularly vulnerable to environmental change, so understanding interactive effects of environmental stressors on larval life is essential in predicting population persistence and vulnerability of species. Here, we use a novel experimental approach to rear larvae under interacting gradients of temperature, salinity, and ocean acidification, then model growth rate and duration of Olympia oyster larvae and predict the suitability of habitats for larval survival. We find that temperature and salinity are closely linked to larval growth and larval habitat suitability, but larvae are tolerant to acidification at this scale. We discover that present conditions in the Salish Sea are actually suboptimal for Olympia oyster larvae from populations in the region, and that larvae from these populations might actually benefit from some degree of global ocean change. Our models predict a vast decrease in mean pelagic larval duration by the year 2095, which has the potential to alter population dynamics for this species in future oceans. Additionally, we find that larval tolerance can explain large-scale biogeographic patterns for this species across its range.

Lawlor J. A. & Arellano S. M., 2020. Temperature and salinity, not acidification, predict near-future larval growth and larval habitat suitability of Olympia oysters in the Salish Sea. Scientific Reports 10: 13787. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69568-w. Article.

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