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Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification

Abstract

Ocean acidification results in co-varying inorganic carbon system variables. Of these, an explicit focus on pH and organismal acid–base regulation has failed to distinguish the mechanism of failure in highly sensitive bivalve larvae. With unique chemical manipulations of seawater we show definitively that larval shell development and growth are dependent on seawater saturation state, and not on carbon dioxide partial pressure or pH. Although other physiological processes are affected by pH, mineral saturation state thresholds will be crossed decades to centuries ahead of pH thresholds owing to nonlinear changes in the carbonate system variables as carbon dioxide is added. Our findings were repeatable for two species of bivalve larvae could resolve discrepancies in experimental results, are consistent with a previous model of ocean acidification impacts due to rapid calcification in bivalve larvae, and suggest a fundamental ocean acidification bottleneck at early life-history for some marine keystone species.

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Figure 1: Carbonate chemistry values for the 16 experimental treatments for each of the four experiments grouped by species, plotted against p CO 2 and saturation state, with isopleths of pH plotted in p CO 2 /saturation state space.
Figure 2: Shell development in response to carbonate system variables for both species.
Figure 3: Shell growth in response to carbonate system variables for both species.
Figure 4: Development of prodissoconch I shell in Pacific oyster larvae.
Figure 5: Calculated response of pH and aragonite saturation state to increasing p CO 2 from 200 to 1,600 μatm (triangles) at typical upwelling conditions along the Oregon coast.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation OCE CRI-OA #1041267 to G.G.W., B.H., C.J.L. and B.A.H. The authors would like to thank H. Bergschneider, R. Mabardy, J. Sun, G. Hutchinson and T. Klein for their dedicated efforts on the experimental work, S. Smith for sampling and imaging developing embryos, and J. Jennings for assistance and student training on carbonate analyses. G.G.W. would like to specifically thank T. Sawyer in the OSU Electron Microscope Laboratory for guidance on imaging bivalve embryos. Comments from A. Hettinger and S. E. Kolesar improved an earlier version of this manuscript.

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G.G.W., B.H., C.J.L. and B.A.H. conceived and planned the research. G.G.W. designed and supervised experiments. G.G.W. and B.H. analysed data. P.S. organized study components and P.S., M.W.G., E.L.B., I.G. and C.A.M. developed and carried out the experiments. M.W.G., E.L.B., I.G. and C.A.M. analysed organism and chemistry samples. All authors contributed to writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to George G. Waldbusser.

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Waldbusser, G., Hales, B., Langdon, C. et al. Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification. Nature Clim Change 5, 273–280 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2479

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