skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on May 1, 2023

Title: Caribbean king crab larvae and juveniles show tolerance to ocean acidification and ocean warming
Abstract Coastal habitats are experiencing decreases in seawater pH and increases in temperature due to anthropogenic climate change. The Caribbean king crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus , plays a vital role on Western Atlantic reefs by grazing macroalgae that competes for space with coral recruits. Therefore, identifying its tolerance to anthropogenic stressors is critically needed if this species is to be considered as a potential restoration management strategy in coral reef environments. We examined the effects of temperature (control: 28 °C and elevated: 31 °C) and pH (control: 8.0 and reduced pH: 7.7) on the king crab’s larval and early juvenile survival, molt-stage duration, and morphology in a fully crossed laboratory experiment. Survival to the megalopal stage was reduced (13.5% lower) in the combined reduced pH and elevated temperature treatment relative to the control. First-stage (J1) juveniles delayed molting by 1.5 days in the reduced pH treatment, while second-stage (J2) crabs molted 3 days earlier when exposed to elevated temperature. Juvenile morphology did not differ among treatments. These results suggests that juvenile king crabs are tolerant to changes associated with climate change. Given the important role of the king crab as a grazer of macroalgae, its tolerance to climate stressors suggests that it could benefit restoration more » efforts aimed at making coral reefs more resilient to increasingly warm and acidic oceans into the future. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2049047
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10342789
Journal Name:
Marine Biology
Volume:
169
Issue:
5
ISSN:
0025-3162
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Many marine species have been shown to be threatened by both ocean acidification and ocean warming which are reducing survival, altering behavior, and posing limits on physiology, especially during earlier life stages. The commercially important Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria , is one species that is affected by reduced seawater pH and elevated seawater temperatures. In this study, we determined the impacts of reduced pH and elevated temperature on the distribution of the stone crab larvae along the West Florida Shelf. To understand the dispersion of the larvae, we coupled the multi-scale ocean model SLIM with a larval dispersal model.more »We then conducted a connectivity study and evaluated the impacts of climate stressors by looking at four different scenarios which included models that represented the dispersion of stone crab larvae under: 1) present day conditions as modelled by SLIM for the temperature and NEMO-PISCES for the pH, 2) SSP1-2.6 scenario (-0.037 reduction in pH and +0.5°C compared to present-day conditions), 3) SSP2-4.5 scenario(-0.15 reduction in pH and +1.5°C) and 4) SSP5-8.5 scenario (-0.375 reduction in pH and +3.5°C). Our results show a clear impact of these climate change stressors on larval dispersal and on the subsequent stone crab distribution. Our results indicate that future climate change could result in stone crabs moving north or into deeper waters. We also observed an increase in the number of larvae settling in deeper waters (defined as the non-fishing zone in this study with depths exceeding 30 m) that are not typically part of the commercial fishing zone. The distance travelled by larvae, however, is likely to decrease, resulting in an increase of self-recruitment and decrease of the size of the sub-populations. A shift of the spawning period, to earlier in the spring, is also likely to occur. Our results suggest that habitats in the non-fishing zone cannot serve as a significant source of larvae for the habitats in the fishing zone (defined as water depth< 30 m) since there is very little exchange (< 5% of all exchanges) between the two zones. These results indicate that the stone crab populations in Florida may be susceptible to community fragmentation and that the management of the fishery should consider the potential impacts of future climate change scenarios.« less
  2. Rising atmospheric CO 2 reduces seawater pH causing ocean acidification (OA). Understanding how resilient marine organisms respond to OA may help predict how community dynamics will shift as CO 2 continues rising. The common slipper shell snail Crepidula fornicata is a marine gastropod native to eastern North America that has been a successful invader along the western European coastline and elsewhere. It has also been previously shown to be resilient to global change stressors. To examine the mechanisms underlying C. fornicata’s resilience to OA, we conducted two controlled laboratory experiments. First, we examined several phenotypes and genome-wide gene expression ofmore »C. fornicata in response to pH treatments (7.5, 7.6, and 8.0) throughout the larval stage and then tested how conditions experienced as larvae influenced juvenile stages (i.e., carry-over effects). Second, we examined genome-wide gene expression patterns of C. fornicata larvae in response to acute (4, 10, 24, and 48 h) pH treatment (7.5 and 8.0). Both C. fornicata larvae and juveniles exhibited resilience to OA and their gene expression responses highlight the role of transcriptome plasticity in this resilience. Larvae did not exhibit reduced growth under OA until they were at least 8 days old. These phenotypic effects were preceded by broad transcriptomic changes, which likely served as an acclimation mechanism for combating reduced pH conditions frequently experienced in littoral zones. Larvae reared in reduced pH conditions also took longer to become competent to metamorphose. In addition, while juvenile sizes at metamorphosis reflected larval rearing pH conditions, no carry-over effects on juvenile growth rates were observed. Transcriptomic analyses suggest increased metabolism under OA, which may indicate compensation in reduced pH environments. Transcriptomic analyses through time suggest that these energetic burdens experienced under OA eventually dissipate, allowing C. fornicata to reduce metabolic demands and acclimate to reduced pH. Carry-over effects from larval OA conditions were observed in juveniles; however, these effects were larger for more severe OA conditions and larvae reared in those conditions also demonstrated less transcriptome elasticity. This study highlights the importance of assessing the effects of OA across life history stages and demonstrates how transcriptomic plasticity may allow highly resilient organisms, like C. fornicata , to acclimate to reduced pH environments.« less
  3. Caribbean coral reefs are experiencing a shift to algal dominance at the expense of stony corals. Determining the factors leading to algal phase shifts is crucial for assuring the survival of Caribbean coral reefs. In this study, factors controlling the growth of the abundant brown macroalgae Dictyota spp. were investigated by varying herbivory pressure (caging) and nutrients (fertilizer addition) on coral reefs near St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands). Experiment 1 measured Dictyota heights and percent cover at 3 sites (11-20 m depth) and showed no growth response to nutrient addition and a weak negative response to herbivory. To confirm resultsmore »of Experiment 1, a caging and nutrient manipulation (Experiment 2) was conducted at one site (14 m depth) using the dependent variable Dictyota biomass. A strong negative response of growth to nutrient addition was shown, presumably because of nutrient inhibition, and an equally negative response to herbivory (loss of ~50% biomass over 21 d). The inhibitory effect of fertilization on growth was confirmed in a third experiment that showed increasing biomass loss over 4 treatment levels of increasing fertilizer addition (0 [ambient], 5, 10, 20 g). Overall, Dictyota was not nutrient limited at any sites, and was weakly controlled by herbivore populations. Factors responsible for Dictyota abundance on Caribbean reefs may reflect decreased herbivory caused by overfishing and reductions in coral cover and do not appear to be affected by recent changes in nitrogen or phosphorus load. This study reinforces the need for conservation and management of herbivores in coral reef ecosystems, to mitigate the effects from anthropogenic stressors.« less
  4. Anthropogenic increases in global temperatures and nutrient loads are expected to reduce juvenile blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) survival in the Chesapeake Bay. These factors change habitat composition which can affect juvenile invertebrates and fishes that are dependent on these habitats. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is declining due to rising water temperatures and increased nutrient loading, while widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima) can tolerate higher temperatures. An indoor mesocosm experiment was designed to test the suitability of Zostera and Ruppia as protective nursery habitats compared to sand. Artificial seagrass plots were placed in flow-through tanks. Juvenile blue crabs were tethered, and adult bluemore »crabs and striped burrfish were introduced as predators in order to estimate juvenile crab survival in different substrates. Survival analysis revealed that Zostera provides more protection for juvenile crabs than sand. There was no significant difference between Ruppia and sand, and between Zostera and Ruppia in providing juvenile protection. This suggests juvenile survival may decrease in the future with Zostera loss and that stricter restrictions on the blue crab fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and mid-Atlantic region would be required to maintain healthy crab populations.« less
  5. Abstract Coral reef ecosystems are under threat from the frequent and severe impacts of anthropogenic climate change, particularly rising sea surface temperatures. The effects of thermal stress may be ameliorated by adaptation and/or acclimation of the host, symbiont, or holobiont (host + symbiont) to increased temperatures. We examined the role of the symbiont in promoting thermal tolerance of the holobiont, using Antillogorgia bipinnata (octocoral host) and Breviolum antillogorgium (symbiont) as a model system. We identified five distinct genotypes of B. antillogorgium from symbiont populations isolated from Antillogorgia colonies in the Florida Keys. Three symbiont genotypes were cultured and maintained at 26 °C (ambientmore »historical temperature), and two were cultured and maintained at 30 °C (elevated historical temperature) for 2 yrs. We analyzed the growth rate and carrying capacity of each symbiont genotype at both ambient and elevated temperatures in culture (in vitro). All genotypes grew well at both temperatures, indicating that thermal tolerance exists among these B. antillogorgium cultures. However, a history of long-term growth at 30 °C did not yield better performance for B. antillogorgium at 30 °C (as compared to 26 °C), suggesting that prior culturing at the elevated temperature did not result in increased thermal tolerance. We then inoculated juvenile A. bipinnata polyps with each of the five symbiont genotypes and reared these polyps at both ambient and elevated temperatures ( in hospite experiment). All genotypes established symbioses with polyps in both temperature treatments. Survivorship of polyps at 30 °C was significantly lower than survivorship at 26 °C, but all treatments had surviving polyps at 56 d post-infection. Our results suggest broad thermal tolerance in B. antillogorgium, which may play a part in the increased resilience of Caribbean octocorals during heat stress events.« less