Posts Tagged 'reproduction'

Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Ocean acidification and ocean warming (OAW) are simultaneously occurring and could pose ecological challenges to marine life, particularly early life stages of fish that, although they are internal calcifiers, may have poorly developed acid-base regulation. This study assessed the effect of projected OAW on key fitness traits (growth, development and swimming ability) in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) larvae and juveniles. Starting at 2 days post-hatch (dph), larvae were exposed to one of three levels of PCO2 (650, 1150, 1700 μatm; pH 8.0, 7.8, 7.6) at either a cold (15°C) or warm (20°C) temperature. Growth rate, development stage and critical swimming speed (Ucrit) were repeatedly measured as sea bass grew from 0.6 to ~10.0 (cold) or ~14.0 (warm) cm body length. Exposure to different levels of PCO2 had no significant effect on growth, development or Ucrit of larvae and juveniles. At the warmer temperature, larvae displayed faster growth and deeper bodies. Notochord flexion occurred at 0.8 and 1.2 cm and metamorphosis was completed at an age of ~45 and ~60 days post-hatch for sea bass in the warm and cold treatments, respectively. Swimming performance increased rapidly with larval development but better swimmers were observed in the cold treatment, reflecting a potential trade-off between fast grow and swimming ability. A comparison of the results of this and other studies on marine fish indicates that the effects of OAW on the growth, development and swimming ability of early life stages are species-specific and that generalizing the impacts of climate-driven warming or ocean acidification is not warranted.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)’

Little evidence of adaptation potential to ocean acidification in sea urchins living in “future ocean” conditions at a CO2 vent

Ocean acidification (OA) can be detrimental to calcifying marine organisms, with stunting of invertebrate larval development one of the most consistent responses. Effects are usually measured by short‐term, within‐generation exposure, an approach that does not consider the potential for adaptation. We examined the genetic response to OA of larvae of the tropical sea urchin Echinometra sp. C. raised on coral reefs that were either influenced by CO2 vents (pH ~ 7.9, future OA condition) or nonvent control reefs (pH 8.2). We assembled a high quality de novo transcriptome of Echinometra embryos (8 hr) and pluteus larvae (48 hr) and identified 68,056 SNPs. We tested for outlier SNPs and functional enrichment in embryos and larvae raised from adults from the control or vent sites. Generally, highest FST values in embryos were observed between sites (intrinsic adaptation, most representative of the gene pool in the spawned populations). This comparison also had the highest number of outlier loci (40). In the other comparisons, classical adaptation (comparing larvae with adults from the control transplanted to either the control or vent conditions) and reverse adaptation (larvae from the vent site returned to the vent or explanted at the control), we only observed modest numbers of outlier SNPs (6–19) and only enrichment in two functional pathways. Most of the outliers detected were silent substitutions without adaptive potential. We conclude that there is little evidence of realized adaptation potential during early development, while some potential (albeit relatively low) exists in the intrinsic gene pool after more than one generation of exposure.

Continue reading ‘Little evidence of adaptation potential to ocean acidification in sea urchins living in “future ocean” conditions at a CO2 vent’

Ocean acidification impact on ascidian Ciona robusta spermatozoa: new evidence for stress resilience


• Impact of ocean acidification on sperm quality of the ascidian Ciona robusta was investigated.

• Two experimental approaches were set up to simulate the ocean conditions predicted for the end of this century.

• Alteration of sperm motility, morphology and physiology was detected in short-term exposure.

• A rapid recovery of physiological conditions was observed within one week.

• New evidence of resilience in ascidian C. robusta spermatozoa in response to ocean acidification.


Rising atmospheric CO2 is causing a progressive decrease of seawater pH, termed ocean acidification. Predicting its impact on marine invertebrate reproduction is essential to anticipate the consequences of future climate change on species fitness and survival. Ocean acidification may affect reproductive success either in terms of gamete or progeny quality threating species survival. Despite an increasing number of studies focusing on the effects of ocean acidification on the early life history of marine organisms, very few have investigated the effects on invertebrate gamete quality. In this study, we set up two experimental approaches simulating the ocean conditions predicted for the end of this century, in situ transplant experiments at a naturally acidified volcanic vent area along the Ischia island coast and microcosm experiments, to evaluate the short-term effects of the predicted near-future levels of ocean acidification on sperm quality of the ascidian Ciona robusta after parental exposure. In the first days of exposure to acidified conditions, we detected alteration of sperm motility, morphology and physiology, followed by a rapid recovery of physiological conditions that provide a new evidence of resilience of ascidian spermatozoa in response to ocean acidification. Overall, the short-term tolerance to adverse conditions opens a new scenario on the marine species capacity to continue to reproduce and persist in changing oceans.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification impact on ascidian Ciona robusta spermatozoa: new evidence for stress resilience’

Effects of acidification on the proteome during early development of Babylonia areolata

Increases in atmospheric CO2 partial pressure have lowered seawater pH in marine ecosystems, a process called ocean acidification (OA). The effects of OA during the critical stages of larval development may have disastrous consequences for some marine species, including Babylonia areolata (Link 1807), a commercially important sea snail in China and South East Asia. To investigate how OA affects the proteome of Babylonia areolata, here we used label‐free proteomics to study protein changes in response to acidified (pH 7.6) or ambient seawater (pH 8.1) during three larvae developmental stages of B. areolata, namely, the veliger larvae before attachment (E1), veliger larvae after attachment (E2), and carnivorous juvenile snail (E3). In total, we identified 720 proteins. This result suggested that acidification seriously affects late veliger stage after attachment (E2). Further examination of the roles of differentially expressed proteins, which include glutaredoxin, heat‐shock protein 70, thioredoxin, catalase, cytochrome‐c‐oxidase, peroxiredoxin 6, troponin T, CaM kinase II alpha, proteasome subunit N3 and cathepsin L, will be important for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying pH reduction.

Continue reading ‘Effects of acidification on the proteome during early development of Babylonia areolata’

Chemical microenvironments within macroalgal assemblages: implications for the inhibition of kelp recruitment by turf algae

Kelp forests around the world are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic stressors. A widespread consequence is that in many places, complex and highly productive kelp habitats have been replaced by structurally simple and less productive turf algae habitats. Turf algae habitats resist re‐establishment of kelp via recruitment inhibition; however, little is known about the specific mechanisms involved. One potential factor is the chemical environment within the turf algae and into which kelp propagules settle and develop. Using laboratory trials, we illustrate that the chemical microenvironment (O2 concentration and pH) 0.0–50 mm above the substratum within four multispecies macroalgal assemblages (including a turf‐sediment assemblage and an Ecklonia radiata kelp‐dominated assemblage) are characterized by elevated O2 and pH relative to the surrounding seawater. Notably however, O2 and pH were significantly higher within turf‐sediment assemblages than in kelp‐dominated assemblages, and at levels that have previously been demonstrated to impair the photosynthetic or physiological capacity of kelp propagules. Field observations of the experimental assemblages confirmed that recruitment of kelp was significantly lower into treatments with dense turf algae than in the kelp‐dominated assemblages. We demonstrate differences between the chemical microenvironments of kelp and turf algae assemblages that correlate with differences in kelp recruitment, highlighting how degradation of kelp habitats might result in the persistence of turf algae habitats and the localized absence of kelp.

Continue reading ‘Chemical microenvironments within macroalgal assemblages: implications for the inhibition of kelp recruitment by turf algae’

Winners and losers in a changing ocean: impact on the physiology and life history of pteropods in the Scotia Sea; Southern Ocean

The Scotia Sea (Southern Ocean) is a hotspot of biodiversity, however, it is one of the fastest warming regions in the world alongside one of the first to experience ocean acidification (OA). Thecosome (shelled) pteropods are planktonic gastropods which can dominate the Scotia Sea zooplankton community, form a key component of the polar pelagic food web and are important contributors to carbon and carbonate fluxes. Pteropods have been identified as sentinel species for OA, since their aragonitic shells are vulnerable to dissolution in waters undersaturated with respect to aragonite.

In this thesis I investigate the impact of a changing ocean on the physiology and life history of pteropods in the Scotia Sea. Firstly, I culture early stage pteropods within OA and warming conditions predicted to occur in 2100 (Chapter 2). I demonstrate that larval shell morphology and survival rates are detrimentally affected in these conditions. Secondly, I constrain the life cycle and population dynamics of pteropods collected over a year from a sediment trap deployed on a moored platform (Chapter 3). I show that Limacina helicina and Limacina retroversa both have distinct life history strategies, although, spawning of both species corresponds to phytoplankton blooms. Thirdly, I establish a baseline vertical and biogeographical distribution of pteropods using historical samples (Chapter 4). I elucidate the geographical range edges of L. retroversa and L. helicina, as well as vertical migration patterns in relation to predation threat. Finally, I examine in-situ pteropod shell condition in relation to carbonate chemistry using net and oceanographic samples collected during two recent cruises (Chapter 5). I demonstrate that larval shells are susceptible to dissolution on exposure to aragonite undersaturation, however, later life stages display some resilience, since shell dissolution is confined to breaches in the periostracum. Overall, I recommend that continued monitoring, combined with bioassays and mesocosm work, will be essential in identifying the continued threat to pteropods from rapid environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Winners and losers in a changing ocean: impact on the physiology and life history of pteropods in the Scotia Sea; Southern Ocean’

Cuttlefish early development and behavior under future high CO2 conditions

The oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing and changing the seawater chemistry, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). Besides the expected physiological impairments, there is an increasing evidence of detrimental OA effects on the behavioral ecology of certain marine taxa, including cephalopods. Within this context, the main goal of this study was to investigate, for the first time, the OA effects (∼1000 μatm; ΔpH = 0.4) in the development and behavioral ecology (namely shelter-seeking, hunting and response to a visual alarm cue) of the common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) early life stages, throughout the entire embryogenesis until 20 days after hatching. There was no evidence that OA conditions compromised the cuttlefish embryogenesis – namely development time, hatching success, survival rate and biometric data (length, weight and Fulton’s condition index) of newly hatched cuttlefish were similar between the normocapnic and hypercapnic treatments. The present findings also suggest a certain behavioral resilience of the cuttlefish hatchlings toward near-future OA conditions. Shelter-seeking, hunting and response to a visual alarm cue did not show significant differences between treatments. Thus, we argue that cuttlefishes’ nekton-benthic (and active) lifestyle, their adaptability to highly dynamic coastal and estuarine zones, and the already harsh conditions (hypoxia and hypercapnia) inside their eggs provide a degree of phenotypic plasticity that may favor the odds of the recruits in a future acidified ocean. Nonetheless, the interacting effects of multiple stressors should be further addressed, to accurately predict the resilience of this ecologically and economically important species in the oceans of tomorrow.

Continue reading ‘Cuttlefish early development and behavior under future high CO2 conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book