Posts Tagged 'reproduction'

Dose-dependence and small-scale variability in responses to ocean acidification during squid, Doryteuthis pealeii, development

Coastal squids lay their eggs on the benthos, leaving them to develop in a dynamic system that is undergoing rapid acidification due to human influence. Prior studies have broadly investigated the impacts of ocean acidification on embryonic squid, but have not addressed the thresholds at which these responses occur or their potential variability. We raised squid, Doryteuthis pealeii (captured in Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts, USA: 41°23.370’N 70°46.418′W), eggs in three trials across the breeding season (May–September, 2013) in a total of six chronic pCO2 exposures (400, 550, 850, 1300, 1900, and 2200 ppm). Hatchlings were counted and subsampled for mantle length, yolk volume, hatching time, hatching success, and statolith morphology. New methods for analysis of statolith shape, rugosity, and surface degradation were developed and are presented (with code). Responses to acidification (e.g., reduced mantle lengths, delayed hatching, and smaller, more degraded statoliths) were evident at ~ 1300 ppm CO2. However, patterns of physiological response and energy management, based on comparisons of yolk consumption and growth, varied among trials. Interactions between pCO2 and hatching day indicated a potential influence of exposure time on responses, while interactions with culture vessel highlighted the substantive natural variability within a clutch of eggs. While this study is consistent with, and expands upon, previous findings of sensitivity of the early life stages to acidification, it also highlights the plasticity and potential for resilience in this population of squid.

Continue reading ‘Dose-dependence and small-scale variability in responses to ocean acidification during squid, Doryteuthis pealeii, development’

Cuttlefish early development and behaviour under future high CO2 conditions

Atmospheric CO 2 levels are rising since the beginning of the Industrial Era, and concomitantly, the uptake of CO 2 by the oceans is increasing and changing the seawater chemistry, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). These changes can compromise key biological traits of many marine organisms, with potential cascading effects to population and ecosystem levels. Besides the significant neurological/physiological impairments, there is increasing evidence of detrimental OA effects on the behavioural ecology of certain marine taxa, including in cephalopods. Yet, the previous behavioural studies performed in these highly developed invertebrates were only focused on squids and the potential impacts in cuttlefish behaviour are still unknown. Within this context, the main objectives of this dissertation were to investigate OA effects in the development and behaviour of the common cuttlefish ( Sepia officinalis ) early-life stages – from early embryogenesis until 20 days after hatching, namely by exposing them to either present day ( ~ 400 μatm) and to the near-future levels of p CO 2 ( ~ 1000 μatm; ΔpH = 0.4). A comprehensive assessment of OA effects on cuttlefish development was performed by gauging embryogenesis duration, hatching success, early survival rate and body size measures (e.g. weight and length). Furthermore, different aspects of the cuttlefish behavioural ecology, including shelter-seeking, hunting behaviour and response to a visual alarm cue, were analysed to achieve a holistic overview of the OA impacts in cuttlefish early development. The present work did not find any evidence that OA future conditions compromise the cuttlefish embryonic development. The development time, hatching success, survival rate, and the length and weight of newly-hatched cuttlefish were similar between normocapnia and hypercapnia treatments. The Fulton’s Index was the only parameter that showed significant differences, with higher values to the hypercapnia treatment, which may be related with a denser cuttlebone. Concerning to the behaviours analysed, and in contrast with previous cephalopod studies, the results suggest a certain behavioural resilience of the cuttlefish hatchlings towards near-future acidification conditions. The behaviours of hunting, shelter-seeking and response to a visual alarm cue did not show significant differences between treatments. Their nekton-benthic (and active) lifestyle, their adaptability to the abiotic-fluctuating coastal environment and to the adverse conditions inside their eggs may favour the odds of the common cuttlefish recruits to endure the future acidified ocean. Nonetheless, this species is not only exposed to acidification in their natural environment, they may be also particularly susceptible to other anthropogenic pressure and other climate change-related variables. The cumulative effects of multiple stressors should be further addressed to accurately predict what the future reserves to this ecologically and economically important species.

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

Tipping points of gastric pH regulation and energetics in the sea urchin larva exposed to CO2 induced seawater acidification


• We determined the sensitivity thresholds for survival development and growth in sea urchin larvae exposed to acidified conditions.

• Determination of physiological parameters including midgut pH homeostasis, metabolic rates and expression of midgut acid-base transporters demonstrates a physiological tipping point at pH 7.2.

• This work demonstrates substantial resilience of an important environmental engineer to the ongoing phenomenon of ocean acidification.


Sea urchin larvae reduce developmental rates accompanied by changes in their energy budget when exposed to acidified conditions. The necessity to maintain highly alkaline conditions in their digestive systems led to the hypothesis that gastric pH homeostasis is a key trait affecting larval energy budgets leading to distinct tipping points for growth and survival.

To test this hypothesis, sea urchin larvae were reared for 10 days in different pH conditions ranging from pH 7.0 to pH 8.2. Survival, development and growth rates were determined demonstrating severe impacts < pH 7.2. To test the effects of pH on midgut alkalization we measured midgut pH and monitored the expression of acid-base transporters. While larvae were able to maintain their midgut pH at 8.9–9.1 up to an acidification level of pH 7.2, midgut pH was decreased in the lower pH treatments. The maintenance of midgut pH under low pH conditions was accompanied by dynamic changes in the expression level of midgut acid-base transporters. Metabolic rates of the larvae increased with decreasing pH and reached a threshold between pH 7.0 and pH 7.3 where metabolic rates decreased again. Methylation analyses on promoter CpG islands were performed for midgut acid-base transporter genes to test for possible epigenetic modifications after 10-day exposure to different pH conditions. This analysis demonstrated no correlation between methylation level and pH treatments suggesting low potential for epigenetic modification of acid-base transporters upon short-term exposure. Since a clear tipping point was identified at pH 7.2, which is much lower than near-future OA scenarios, this study suggests that the early development of the purple sea urchin larva has a comparatively high tolerance to seawater acidification with substantial acclimation capacity and plasticity in a key physiological trait under near-future OA conditions.

Continue reading ‘Tipping points of gastric pH regulation and energetics in the sea urchin larva exposed to CO2 induced seawater acidification’

Cues for metamorphosis in the invasive gastropod Crepidula fornicata and the effects of ocean acidification on larval development and cue perception

Chemical cues that induce larval metamorphosis in marine invertebrates contribute to the distribution and success of many species, including the marine gastropod Crepidula fornicata. As a markedly successful invasive species in Europe since the 1800’s, C. fornicata poses economic and environmental threats in its invasive range. Its behavior is therefore of great interest to fisheries, aquaculturists, and conservationists. In light of the changing global environment, and that of ocean acidification in particular, much is unknown about how chemical signals and their connected behaviors may shift. In my thesis, I aimed to identify the sources of cues that induce metamorphosis in competent C. fornicata larvae. I also examined the impact of reduced pH, which indicates increased acidity, on larval growth and the ability of larvae to perceive metamorphic cues to assess the potential impact of future ocean acidification levels on larval metamorphosis and early development in this particular species.

Continue reading ‘Cues for metamorphosis in the invasive gastropod Crepidula fornicata and the effects of ocean acidification on larval development and cue perception’

Diverse responses of sporophytic photochemical efficiency and gametophytic growth for two edible kelps, Saccharina japonica and Undaria pinnatifida, to ocean acidification and warming


• Increased pCO2 enhanced sporophytic photosynthesis of S. japonica and U. pinnatifida.
• Increased pCO2 inhibited gametophytic growth of these two kelps.
• Ocean acidification and warming represent major threats to kelp mariculture.
• U. pinnatifida showed higher productivity in warmer ocean than S. japonica.


Ocean acidification and warming represent major environmental threats to kelp mariculture. In this study, sporophytic photochemical efficiency and gametophytic growth of Saccharina japonica and Undaria pinnatifidawere evaluated under different pCO2 levels (360, 720, and 980 ppmv) and temperatures (5, 10, 15, and 20 °C for sporophytes; 15 and 20 °C for gametophytes). Sporophytic photochemical efficiencies of both kelps were significantly greater at 720 ppmv than at 360 and 980 ppmv. Female gametophytes of both kelps grew significantly better at 360 ppmv than at higher pCO2 levels. The growth of U. pinnatifida gametophytes was significantly greater at 20 °C than at 15 °C, while no significant difference was observed for the growth of S. japonica. These results indicate that increased pCO2 stimulated sporophytic photochemical efficiency while inhibited gametophytic growth of these kelps, which might negatively affect their seedling cultivation. U. pinnatifida exhibited higher productivity in warmer ocean than S. japonica.

Continue reading ‘Diverse responses of sporophytic photochemical efficiency and gametophytic growth for two edible kelps, Saccharina japonica and Undaria pinnatifida, to ocean acidification and warming’

Direct and indirect effects of elevated CO2 are revealed through shifts in phytoplankton, copepod development, and fatty acid accumulation

Change in the nutritional quality of phytoplankton is a key mechanism through which ocean acidification can affect the function of marine ecosystems. Copepods play an important role transferring energy from phytoplankton to higher trophic levels, including fatty acids (FA)—essential macronutrients synthesized by primary producers that can limit zooplankton and fisheries production. We investigated the direct effects of pCO2 on phytoplankton and copepods in the laboratory, as well as the trophic transfer of effects of pCO2 on food quality. The marine cryptophyte Rhodomonas salina was cultured at 400, 800, and 1200 μatm pCO2 and fed to adult Acartia hudsonica acclimated to the same pCO2 levels. We examined changes in phytoplankton growth rate, cell size, carbon content, and FA content, and copepod FA content, grazing, respiration, egg production, hatching, and naupliar development. This single-factor experiment was repeated at 12°C and at 17°C. At 17°C, the FA content of R. salina responded non-linearly to elevated pCO2 with the greatest FA content at intermediate levels, which was mirrored in A. hudsonica; however, differences in ingestion rate indicate that copepods accumulated FA less efficiently at elevated pCO2. A. hudsonica nauplii developed faster at elevated pCO2 at 12°C in the absence of strong food quality effects, but not at 17°C when food quality varied among treatments. Our results demonstrate that changes to the nutritional quality of phytoplankton are not directly translated to their grazers, and that studies that include trophic links are key to unraveling how ocean acidification will drive changes in marine food webs.

Continue reading ‘Direct and indirect effects of elevated CO2 are revealed through shifts in phytoplankton, copepod development, and fatty acid accumulation’

A negative correlation between behavioural and physiological performance under ocean acidification and warming

Many studies have examined the average effects of ocean acidification and warming on phenotypic traits of reef fishes, finding variable, but often negative effects on behavioural and physiological performance. Yet the presence and nature of a relationship between these traits is unknown. A negative relationship between phenotypic traits could limit individual performance and even the capacity of populations to adapt to climate change. Here, we examined the relationship between behavioural and physiological performance of a juvenile reef fish under elevated CO2 and temperature in a full factorial design. Behaviourally, the response to an alarm odour was negatively affected by elevated CO2, but not elevated temperature. Physiologically, aerobic scope was significantly diminished under elevated temperature, but not under elevated CO2. At the individual level, there was no relationship between behavioural and physiological traits in the control and single-stressor treatments. However, a statistically significant negative relationship was detected between the traits in the combined elevated CO2 and temperature treatment. Our results demonstrate that trade-offs in performance between behavioural and physiological traits may only be evident when multiple climate change stressors are considered, and suggest that this negative relationship could limit adaptive potential to climate change.

Continue reading ‘A negative correlation between behavioural and physiological performance under ocean acidification and warming’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book