How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Environmental Conditioning of Sole Larvae Prepares Them for Subsequent Juvenile and Adult Challenges
Zambonino-Infante, J.L.,Claireaux, G., Ernande, B., Jolivet, A., Quazuguel, P., Severe, A., Huelvan, C. and Mazurais, D. 2013. Hypoxia tolerance of common sole juveniles depends on dietary regime and temperature at the larval stage: evidence for environmental conditioning. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280: 10.1098/rspb.2012.3022.

The authors introduce the subject of their study by noting that "an individual's environmental history may have delayed effects on its physiology and life history at later stages in life because of irreversible plastic responses of early ontogenesis to environmental conditions."

What was done
Working with a readily available marine fish, the common sole (Solea solea), Zambonino-Infante et al. examined how temperature and nutritional conditions experienced during larval development, in addition to juvenile dietary regime, affect hypoxia tolerance at the juvenile stage of this particular fish, which work enabled them to examine "the combined effect of global warming and hypoxia in coastal waters, which are potential stressors to many estuarine and coastal marine fishes."

What was learned
The eight French scientists discovered that "warmer larval temperature had a delayed positive effect on body mass and resistance to hypoxia at the juvenile stage," which suggests there was a lower oxygen demand later in life among individuals that had experienced elevated temperatures during larval stages.

What it means
Zambonino-Infante et al.'s thinking on this matter was that "an irreversible plastic response to temperature occurred during early ontogeny that allowed adaptive regulation of metabolic rates and/or oxygen demand with long-lasting effects." And they therefore concluded that "these results could deeply affect predictions about impacts of global warming and eutrophication on marine organisms." In fact, they conclude their paper with the statement that this phenomenon "may attenuate some of the more severe predictions about organisms' responses to global warming and eutrophication."

Reviewed 9 October 2013