Elevated CO2 affects embryonic development and larval phototaxis in a temperate marine fish



As an effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the chemistry of the world's oceans is changing. Understanding how this will affect marine organisms and ecosystems are critical in predicting the impacts of this ongoing ocean acidification. Work on coral reef fishes has revealed dramatic effects of elevated oceanic CO2 on sensory responses and behavior. Such effects may be widespread but have almost exclusively been tested on tropical reef fishes. Here we test the effects elevated CO2 has on the reproduction and early life history stages of a temperate coastal goby with paternal care by allowing goby pairs to reproduce naturally in an aquarium with either elevated (ca 1400 μatm) CO2 or control seawater (ca 370 μatm CO2). Elevated CO2 did not affect the occurrence of spawning nor clutch size, but increased embryonic abnormalities and egg loss. Moreover, we found that elevated CO2 significantly affected the phototactic response of newly hatched larvae. Phototaxis is a vision-related fundamental behavior of many marine fishes, but has never before been tested in the context of ocean acidification. Our findings suggest that ocean acidification affects embryonic development and sensory responses in temperate fishes, with potentially important implications for fish recruitment.