Down in arms: marine climate stress inhibits growth and calcification of regenerating Asterias forbesi (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) arms

Anthropogenic CO2 is changing the pCO2, temperature, and carbonate chemistry of seawater. These processes are termed ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming. Previous studies suggest two opposing hypotheses for the way in which marine climate stress will influence echinoderm calcification, metabolic efficiency, and reproduction: either an additive or synergistic effect. Sea stars have a regenerative capacity, which may be particularly affected while rebuilding calcium carbonate arm structures, leading to changes in arm growth and calcification. In this study, Asterias forbesi were exposed to ocean water of either ambient, high temperature, high pCO2, or high temperature and high pCO2 for 60 days, and the regeneration length of the amputated arm was measured weekly. Ocean acidification conditions (pCO2 ~1180 μatm) had a negative impact on regenerated arm length, and an increase in temperature of +4°C above ambient conditions (Fall, Southern Gulf of Maine) had a positive effect on regenerated arm length, but the additive effects of these two factors resulted in smaller regenerated arms compared to ambient conditions. Sea stars regenerating under high pCO2 exhibited a lower proportion of calcified mass, which could be the result of a more energetically demanding calcification process associated with marine climate stress. These results indicate that A. forbesi calcification is sensitive to increasing pCO2, and that climate change will have an overall net negative effect on sea star arm regeneration. Such effects could translate into lower predation rates by a key consumer in the temperate rocky intertidal of North America.

Randazzo H. L., 2021. Down in arms: marine climate stress inhibits growth and calcification of regenerating Asterias forbesi (Echinodermata: Asteroidea) arms. College thesis, Honors Projects, Bowdoin College, 20 p. Thesis.

 

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