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The Impact of Ocean Acidification on the Early Life Stages of an Estuarine Fish

Paper Reviewed
Lonthair, J., Ern, R. and Esbaugh, A.J. 2017. The early life stages of an estuarine fish, the red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), are tolerant to high pCO2. ICES Journal of Marine Science 74: 1042-1050.

Noting that estuaries routinely experience natural pCO2 fluctuations over a variety of time scales that regularly exceed the predicted end-of-the-century values due to ocean acidification, Lonthair et al. (2017) opine that "estuarine inhabitants may exhibit high pCO2 tolerance," and they thus went about to explore the possibility of such tolerance in red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), a fast-developing and economically important estuarine fish.

To test their hypothesis, the three researchers examined the response of red drum embryos and larvae to elevated levels of pCO2, measuring their survival, growth, yolk consumption, heart rate, and scototaxis (light/dark preference) during these early life stages. In summing up their findings, Lonthair et al. write "we have shown that the fast-growing estuarine-dependent red drum exhibit tolerance to elevated pCO2 on a number of different levels," adding that "the only negative impact we observed to an increased pCO2 level similar to end-of-century prediction was a marginal 10% decrease in survival." All things considered, therefore, Lonthair et al. conclude that the red drum "exhibits tolerance to high pCO2 on a number of levels, ranging from survival to behavior."

Posted 7 August 2017