On the effects of temperature and pH on tropical and temperate holothurians

Ocean acidification and increased ocean heat content has direct and indirect effects on marine organisms such as holothurians (sea cucumbers) that are vulnerable to changes in pH and temperature. These environmental factors have the potential to influence organismal performance and fitness at different life stages. Tropical and temperate holothurians are more vulnerable to temperature and pH than those from colder water environments. The high level of environmental variation observed in the oceans could influence organismal responses and even produce a wide spectrum of compensatory physiological mechanisms. It is possible that in these areas, larval survival will decline by up to 50% in response to a reduction of 0.5 pH units. Such reduction in pH may trigger low intrinsic growth rates and affect the sustainability of the resource. Here we describe the individual and combined effects that temperature and pH could produce in these organisms. We also describe how these effects can scale from individuals to the population level by using age-structured spatial models in which depensation can be integrated. The approach shows how physiology can improve the conservation of the resource based on the restriction of growth model parameters and by including a density threshold, below which the fitness of the population, specifically intrinsic growth rate, decreases.

González-Durán E., Hernández-Flores Á., Headley M. D. & Canul J. D., 2021. On the effects of temperature and pH on tropical and temperate holothurians, Conservation Physiology 9(1): coab092. doi: 10.1093/conphys/coab092. Article.

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