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  1. Abstract

    Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) are essential forage fish in most offshore, temperate-to-polar waters on the Northwest Atlantic shelf (NWA), but their population structure and genetic separation from the American sand lance (A. americanus) remain unresolved. We assembled a reference genome for A. dubius (first in the Ammodytidae) and then used low-coverage whole genome sequencing on 262 specimens collected across the species distribution (Mid-Atlantic Bight to Greenland) to quantify genetic differentiation between geographic regions based on single nucleotide polymorphisms. We found strong separation between A. dubius from locations north and south of the Scotian Shelf, largely due to massive genetic differentiation spanning most of chromosomes 21 and 24. Genetic distance increased with geographic distance in the smaller southern cluster but not in the larger northern cluster, where genetic homogeneity appeared across large geographic distances (>103 km). The two genetic clusters coincide with a clear break in winter sea surface temperature, suggesting that differential offspring survival, rather than limited transport, causes a break in realized connectivity. Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA both clearly delineated A. dubius from A. americanus, thereby confirming a species boundary through spatial niche partitioning into inshore (A. americanus) and offshore (A. dubius) sand lance species on the NWA.

  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  3. Abstract

    Adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity will fuel resilience in the geologically unprecedented warming and acidification of the earth’s oceans, however, we have much to learn about the interactions and costs of these mechanisms of resilience. Here, using 20 generations of experimental evolution followed by three generations of reciprocal transplants, we investigated the relationship between adaptation and plasticity in the marine copepod,Acartia tonsa, in future global change conditions (high temperature and high CO2). We found parallel adaptation to global change conditions in genes related to stress response, gene expression regulation, actin regulation, developmental processes, and energy production. However, reciprocal transplantation showed that adaptation resulted in a loss of transcriptional plasticity, reduced fecundity, and reduced population growth when global change-adapted animals were returned to ambient conditions or reared in low food conditions. However, after three successive transplant generations, global change-adapted animals were able to match the ambient-adaptive transcriptional profile. Concurrent changes in allele frequencies and erosion of nucleotide diversity suggest that this recovery occurred via adaptation back to ancestral conditions. These results demonstrate that while plasticity facilitated initial survival in global change conditions, it eroded after 20 generations as populations adapted, limiting resilience to new stressors and previously benign environments.

  4. Browman, Howard (Ed.)
    Abstract Experiments examining fish sensitivities to future oceanic CO2 levels have greatly expanded over past decades and identified many potentially affected traits. Curiously, data on reproductive trait responses to high CO2 are still scarce, despite their strong link to Darwinian fitness and thus to population vulnerability to ocean acidification. We conducted two rearing experiments on the first broadcast-spawning marine fish model (Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia) to examine how long-term and novel whole life-cycle exposures to predicted future CO2 levels (∼2,000 µatm) affect laboratory spawning, temperature-specific reproductive investment, fecundity, and size distributions of maturing oocytes. At low temperatures (17°C), female body size and therefore potential fecundity (FPot, oocytes/female) slightly increased with CO2, while relative fecundity (FRel, oocytes/g female) remained unaffected. At high temperatures (24°C), high CO2 substantially reduced both FPot (−19%) and FRel (−28%) relative to control treatments. Irrespective of CO2, females at 24°C grew larger and heavier than those at 17°C, and although larger females produced larger oocytes at some developmental stages, they also had lower gonadosomatic indices and lower FRel. Our findings contrast with most previous studies and thus highlight the need to investigate reproductive impacts of increasing CO2 on multiple fish species with contrasting life history strategies.
  5. Ojaveer, Henn (Ed.)
    Abstract Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) and Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) represent the dominant lipid-rich forage fish species throughout the Northeast US shelf and are critical prey for numerous top predators. However, unlike Atlantic herring, there is little research on sand lance or information about drivers of their abundance. We use intra-annual measurements of sand lance diet, growth, and condition to explain annual variability in sand lance abundance on the Northeast US Shelf. Our observations indicate that northern sand lance feed, grow, and accumulate lipids in the late winter through summer, predominantly consuming the copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Sand lance then cease feeding, utilize lipids, and begin gonad development in the fall. We show that the abundance of C. finmarchicus influences sand lance parental condition and recruitment. Atlantic herring can mute this effect through intra-guild predation. Hydrography further impacts sand lance abundance as increases in warm slope water decrease overwinter survival of reproductive adults. The predicted changes to these drivers indicate that sand lance will no longer be able to fill the role of lipid-rich forage during times of low Atlantic herring abundance—changing the Northeast US shelf forage fish complex by the end of the century.
  6. Abstract Coastal ecosystems experience substantial natural fluctuations in p CO 2 and dissolved oxygen (DO) conditions on diel, tidal, seasonal and interannual timescales. Rising carbon dioxide emissions and anthropogenic nutrient input are expected to increase these p CO 2 and DO cycles in severity and duration of acidification and hypoxia. How coastal marine organisms respond to natural p CO 2  × DO variability and future climate change remains largely unknown. Here, we assess the impact of static and cycling p CO 2  × DO conditions of various magnitudes and frequencies on early life survival and growth of an important coastal forage fish, Menidia menidia . Static low DO conditions severely decreased embryo survival, larval survival, time to 50% hatch, size at hatch and post-larval growth rates. Static elevated p CO 2 did not affect most response traits, however, a synergistic negative effect did occur on embryo survival under hypoxic conditions (3.0 mg L −1 ). Cycling p CO 2  × DO, however, reduced these negative effects of static conditions on all response traits with the magnitude of fluctuations influencing the extent of this reduction. This indicates that fluctuations in p CO 2 and DO may benefit coastal organisms by providing periodic physiological refuge from stressfulmore »conditions, which could promote species adaptability to climate change.« less
  7. Grosell, Martin ; Munday, Philip L. ; Farrell, Anthony P. ; Brauner, Colin J. (Ed.)
    The evolutionary history of fishes spans geological periods where atmospheric CO2 was much higher than the current-day, yet some extant species are now sensitive to high environmental CO2. Other species have adapted to live in habitats where they naturally encounter very high CO2 levels. This chapter explores the evolutionary history of fishes in relation to environmental CO2 and adaptations to high CO2 habitats. It then considers the potential for adaptive responses to predicted future CO2 levels from climate change among extant fishes. Despite a rich theory and well-developed experimental methods in quantitative genetics only a handful of studies have tested for genetic variation in CO2-sensitive traits, which might enable fish to adapt to projected future CO2 levels. This is a serious knowledge gap that needs a concerted research effort to overcome. Without basic information on genetic variation in fitness-associated traits and the strength of selection, it is not possible to make informed decisions about the impacts of elevated CO2 on fish populations over the timeframes that CO2 is changing.