Posts Tagged 'reproduction'



Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus

A large number of coastal ecosystems globally are subjected to concurrent hypoxic and acidified conditions that will likely intensify and expand with continued climate change. In temperate regions, the spawning of many important organisms including the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus occurs during the summer months when the severity of coastal hypoxia and acidification is the greatest. While the blue crab earliest larval stage can be exposed to co-occurring hypoxia and acidification observed in many coastal ecosystems, the effects of these concurrent stressors on larval blue crab survival is unknown. This study investigated the individual and combined consequences of low dissolved oxygen (DO) and low pH on blue crab larvae survival through a series of short-term experiments. During 14-day experiments with moderately hypoxic conditions (117–127 μM O2 or 3.74–4.06 mg L-1) and acidified conditions (pH on total scale of 7.16–7.33), low DO and low pH individually and significantly reduced larval survival by 60% and 49%, respectively, with the combination of stressors reducing survival by 87% compared to the control treatment (210–269 μM O2 or 6.72–8.61 mg L-1, 7.91–7.94 DO and pH, respectively). During 4-day experiments with lower DO levels (68–83 μM O2 or 2.18–2.62 mg L-1) and comparable pH levels of 7.29–7.39, low DO individually reduced survival by >90% compared to the control (261–267 μM O2 or 8.35–8.54 mg L-1, 7.92–7.97 DO and pH, respectively), whereas low pH had no effect and there was no interaction between stressors. Over a 4-day period, the DO threshold at which 50% of the larval blue crab population died (LC50) was 121 μM O2 (3.86 mgL-1). In 14-day experiments, the DO and pH effects were additive, yielding survival rates lower than the individual treatments, and significantly correlated with DO and pH concentrations. Collectively, these findings indicate that blue crab sensitivity to both low DO and low pH are acute within the larval stage, depend on the intensity and duration of exposure, and leads to mortality, thereby potentially contributing to the interannual variability and possible regional declines of this fishery.

Continue reading ‘Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus’

Climate change effects on copepod physiology and trophic transfer

Increased anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have led to an increasingly acidified ocean and higher average global sea surface temperatures. This alteration of abiotic conditions is directly affecting aquatic organisms through physiological stress and indirectly through reductions in trophic transfer efficiency. Less efficient trophic transfer at the base of the food web would reduce the overall energy available to support higher trophic levels and could be detrimental to the dependent ecosystem. Estuarine ecosystems are subject to harmful algal blooms (HABs). They are also characterized by low species diversity, which lowers ecosystem resilience to environmental perturbations. This results in a system where changes in phytoplankton and their consumers can dramatically impact the health of the local community. Increased temperature and pCO2 are predicted to change nutritional adequacy and/or toxicity of some HAB species and their copepod consumers. Interactions between Karlodinium veneficum, a HAB species present in the Delaware Inland Bays, and its consumer Acartia tonsa, a locally-dominant copepod, were used to assess direct changes to physiology and/or indirect changes to trophic transfer. Acartia tonsa, toxic prey K. veneficum, and non-toxic prey Storeatula major were grown in multi-generational laboratory cultures at both ambient conditions (25 °C/400 ppm pCO2) and those predicted for year 2100 (29 °C/ 1000 ppm pCO2). Physiological changes were assessed using grazing, respirometry, egg production, and egg hatching success. Grazing experiments indicated there was not a direct toxic effect of the prey on A. tonsa. Respiration rates did not change significantly at higher temperature and pCO2 values, indicating physiological compensation. Egg production did not significantly differ between treatments, but a significant reduction in egg hatching success was found when A. tonsa were fed exclusively K. veneficum. Significant reduction of egg production and hatching also occurred as a result of higher temperature and pCO2. Significant reductions in efficiency of carbon transfer from prey to consumer offspring were found when A. tonsa ingested K. veneficum, and when A. tonsa ingested S. major at elevated temperature and pCO2. In summary, A. tonsa acclimated to the elevated pCO2 and temperature conditions, but changes in resource partitioning led to a lowered transfer of carbon to their offspring. Ingestion of K. veneficum also led to a lowered trophic transfer efficiency, irrespective of temperature and pCO2 level. This indicates that both HABs and increased temperature and pCO2 from climate change have the potential to alter ecosystem dynamics by reducing trophic transfer efficiency at the base of the food chain.

Continue reading ‘Climate change effects on copepod physiology and trophic transfer’

Northern cod species face spawning habitat losses if global warming exceeds 1.5°C

Rapid climate change in the Northeast Atlantic and Arctic poses a threat to some of the world’s largest fish populations. Impacts of warming and acidification may become accessible through mechanism-based risk assessments and projections of future habitat suitability. We show that ocean acidification causes a narrowing of embryonic thermal ranges, which identifies the suitability of spawning habitats as a critical life-history bottleneck for two abundant cod species. Embryonic tolerance ranges linked to climate simulations reveal that ever-increasing CO2 emissions [Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5] will deteriorate suitability of present spawning habitat for both Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) by 2100. Moderate warming (RCP4.5) may avert dangerous climate impacts on Atlantic cod but still leaves few spawning areas for the more vulnerable Polar cod, which also loses the benefits of an ice-covered ocean. Emissions following RCP2.6, however, support largely unchanged habitat suitability for both species, suggesting that risks are minimized if warming is held “below 2°C, if not 1.5°C,” as pledged by the Paris Agreement.

Continue reading ‘Northern cod species face spawning habitat losses if global warming exceeds 1.5°C’

Can larvae of a marine fish adapt to ocean acidification? Evaluating the evolutionary potential of California Grunion (Leuresthes tenuis)

Ocean acidification can reduce the growth and survival of marine species during their larval stages. However, if populations have the genetic capacity to adapt and increase their tolerance of low pH and high pCO2 levels, this may offset the harmful effects of ocean acidification. By combining controlled breeding experiments with laboratory manipulations of seawater chemistry, we evaluated genetic variation in tolerance of ocean acidification conditions for a nearshore marine fish, the California Grunion (Leuresthes tenuis). Our results indicated that acidification conditions increased overall mortality rates of grunion larvae, but did not have a significant effect on growth. Groups of larvae varied widely with respect to mortality and growth rates in both ambient and acidified conditions. We demonstrate that the potential to evolve in response to ocean acidification is best described by considering additive genetic variation in fitness‐related traits under both ambient and acidified conditions, and by evaluating the genetic correlation between traits expressed in these environments. We used a multivariate animal model to estimate additive genetic (co)variance in larval growth and mortality rates under both ambient and acidified conditions (low pH/high pCO2). Our results suggest appreciable genetic variation in larval mortality rates (h2Ambient = 0.120; h2Acidified = 0.183; rG = 0.460), but less genetic variation in growth (h2Ambient = 0.092; h2Acidified = 0.101; rG = 0.135). Maternal effects on larval mortality rates accounted for 26‐36% of the variation in phenotypes, but maternal effects accounted for only 8% of the variation in growth. Collectively, our estimates of genetic variation and covariation suggest that populations of California Grunion have the capacity to adapt relatively quickly to long‐term changes in ocean chemistry.

Continue reading ‘Can larvae of a marine fish adapt to ocean acidification? Evaluating the evolutionary potential of California Grunion (Leuresthes tenuis)’

Robust quantification of fish early life CO2 sensitivities via serial experimentation

Despite the remarkable expansion of laboratory studies, robust estimates of single species CO2 sensitivities remain largely elusive. We conducted a meta-analysis of 20 CO2 exposure experiments conducted over 6 years on offspring of wild Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) to robustly constrain CO2 effects on early life survival and growth. We conclude that early stages of this species are generally tolerant to CO2 levels of approximately 2000 µatm, likely because they already experience these conditions on diel to seasonal timescales. Still, high CO2 conditions measurably reduced fitness in this species by significantly decreasing average embryo survival (−9%) and embryo+larval survival (−13%). Survival traits had much larger coefficients of variation (greater than 30%) than larval length or growth (3–11%). CO2 sensitivities varied seasonally and were highest at the beginning and end of the species’ spawning season (April–July), likely due to the combined effects of transgenerational plasticity and maternal provisioning. Our analyses suggest that serial experimentation is a powerful, yet underused tool for robustly estimating small but true CO2 effects in fish early life stages.

Continue reading ‘Robust quantification of fish early life CO2 sensitivities via serial experimentation’

Adult Antarctic krill proves resilient in a simulated high CO2 ocean

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) have a keystone role in the Southern Ocean, as the primary prey of Antarctic predators. Decreases in krill abundance could result in a major ecological regime shift, but there is limited information on how climate change may affect krill. Increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are causing ocean acidification, as absorption of atmospheric CO2 in seawater alters ocean chemistry. Ocean acidification increases mortality and negatively affects physiological functioning in some marine invertebrates, and is predicted to occur most rapidly at high latitudes. Here we show that, in the laboratory, adult krill are able to survive, grow, store fat, mature, and maintain respiration rates when exposed to near-future ocean acidification (1000–2000 μatm pCO2) for one year. Despite differences in seawater pCO2 incubation conditions, adult krill are able to actively maintain the acid-base balance of their body fluids in near-future pCO2, which enhances their resilience to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Adult Antarctic krill proves resilient in a simulated high CO2 ocean’

Responses to climate change of the sea urchin (Pseudechinus sp.) and sea star (Odontaster validus) through hybridisation, local adaptations and transgenerational plasticity

Climate change, through ocean warming and ocean acidification, can affect the life cycles and population dynamics of marine species, which react by developing acclimation mechanisms. Sea urchins (Pseudechinus sp.) may hybridise with sympatric species or induce local adaptations geographically and sea stars (Odontaster validus) may develop transgenerational plasticity (TGP) in response to climate change. I studied their stress responses and if they developed potential acclimation capacity against climate change.

Continue reading ‘Responses to climate change of the sea urchin (Pseudechinus sp.) and sea star (Odontaster validus) through hybridisation, local adaptations and transgenerational plasticity’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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