The effects of ocean change drivers on the ecophysiology of the mottled brittle star Ophionereis fasciata

Global ocean environments are rapidly changing, posing a substantial threat to the viability of marine populations due to the co-occurrence of different changing ocean (CO) drivers, such as ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA). In order to persist, marine species undergo some combination of acclimation and adaptation in response to these changes. Understanding such responses is essential to measure and predict the magnitude and direction of environmental changes, leading to the development of different approaches to understanding the links and interactions between biological processes and abiotic environmental conditions. A series of long-term mesocosm experiments have been conducted using adult Ophionereis fasciata as a model to investigate the physiological response and trade-offs of marine organisms to ocean acidification, ocean warming and the combined effect of both drivers. A scenario-based approach was adopted to elucidate the primary physiological responses to conditions currently experienced by this species in its tidally influenced habitat (21-24°C and pH 7.75-7.4) as well as changes expected to occur in the near future due to CO (+2.5 ℃ and -0.36 pH by 2100). Long-term exposure to OW and OA conditions affected survival, metabolic rate, regeneration and growth rates, calcification/dissolution and the righting response of O. fasciata. Temperature changes clearly impacted these aspects of the mottled brittle star, while changes in pH had more subtle or no effect. Our results indicate that for most of the assessed ecophysiological traits, there are no significant interactive effects of OA and OW. Moreover, temperature was the dominant driver, with a greater impact regarding the magnitude and quantity of the affected processes. However, the exposure to a combination of high temperature and low pH produced complex responses in terms of survival and calcification/dissolution. Finally, we documented the first report of symbionts associated with O. fasciata: an obligate amphipod parasite and a facultative commensal polychaete. Our findings indicate that the mottled brittle star will need to cope with CO conditions in context with the predictions made for New Zealand waters, with a potential impact on its performance and survival, as well as its distribution and ecological interactions.

Márquez Borrás F., 2023. The effects of ocean change drivers on the ecophysiology of the mottled brittle star Ophionereis fasciata. PhD thesis, University of Auckland, 154 p. Thesis.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: