Embryonic response to long-term exposure of the marine crustacean Nephrops norvegicus to ocean acidification and elevated temperature

Authors

  • Hannah K. Styf,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences – Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg, Fiskebäckskil, Sweden
    • Correspondence

      Hannah K. Styf, The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences – Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg, Kristineberg 566, SE-451 78 Fiskebäckskil, Sweden. Tel: +46 (0) 31 786 9548; Fax: +46 (0) 31 786 3990;

      E-mail: Hannah.styf@bioenv.gu.se

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  • Helen Nilsson Sköld,

    1. The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences – Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg, Fiskebäckskil, Sweden
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  • Susanne P. Eriksson

    1. The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences – Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg, Fiskebäckskil, Sweden
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  • Organism image: Nephrops norvegicus eggs with embryos and approximately 50% yolk. Photographer: H. Nilsson Sköld.

Abstract

Due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions, our oceans have gradually become warmer and more acidic. To better understand the consequences of this, there is a need for long-term (months) and multistressor experiments. Earlier research demonstrates that the effects of global climate change are specific to species and life stages. We exposed berried Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus), during 4 months to the combination of six ecologically relevant temperatures (5–18°C) and reduced pH (by 0.4 units). Embryonic responses were investigated by quantifying proxies for development rate and fitness including: % yolk consumption, mean heart rate, rate of oxygen consumption, and oxidative stress. We found no interactions between temperature and pH, and reduced pH only affected the level of oxidative stress significantly, with a higher level of oxidative stress in the controls. Increased temperature and % yolk consumed had positive effects on all parameters except on oxidative stress, which did not change in response to temperature. There was a difference in development rate between the ranges of 5–10°C (Q10: 5.4) and 10–18°C (Q10: 2.9), implicating a thermal break point at 10°C or below. No thermal limit to a further increased development rate was found. The insensitivity of N. norvegicus embryos to low pH might be explained by adaptation to a pH-reduced external habitat and/or internal hypercapnia during incubation. Our results thus indicate that this species would benefit from global warming and be able to withstand the predicted decrease in ocean pH in the next century during their earliest life stages. However, future studies need to combine low pH and elevated temperature treatments with hypoxia as hypoxic events are frequently and increasingly occurring in the habitat of benthic species.

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