Survival of the fittest: Ocean acidification produces winners and losers

Jan 21, 2013

(Phys.org)—As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to increase, the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide. This absorption comes at a cost, since it makes the ocean more acidic. An acid ocean will affect all marine species, but the potential severity of these effects is the subject of debate.

Most research on has focused on the response of pooled groups of animals. A recent study published in the journal by a research team at Macquarie University has examined the responses of individual animals. They used the common purple sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) to test if some individuals benefit from a more acidic ocean.

The Macquarie team, led by PhD researcher Peter Schlegel, examined the effect of CO2-induced pH changes on sperm swimming behaviour and fertilisation success. While ocean acidification generally decreases sperm activity and , some individuals actually perform better under the more acidic conditions that will characterise near-future oceans.

"Our results suggest that some individuals will exhibit enhanced fertilisation in acidified oceans, supporting the concept of 'winners' and 'losers' of climate change at an individual level", said Schlegel.

It also suggests that adaption to the changed conditions is already underway. Selection for individuals that can reproduce under more acidic conditions may happen quickly, particularly since the selection occurs during the critical life phase of spawning and fertilization. The effects observed in sea urchins may apply to diverse marine species, all of which will undergo intense selection as the oceans acidification.

Explore further: Tool kit for ocean health

More information: The research paper can be found online www.plosone.org/article/info%3… journal.pone.0053118

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Carbon dioxide poses risk to marine life survival

Aug 06, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Climate change and the subsequent acidification of the world's oceans will significantly reduce the successful fertilisation of certain marine species by the year 2100, an international team ...

Acidic oceans could aid photosynthesis

May 18, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Groundbreaking Victoria University research shows that ocean acidification may have no negative effect on tropical corals and local sea anemones - in fact it may improve photosynthesis.

Recommended for you

India court slams Delhi's worsening air pollution

17 minutes ago

India's environment court has slammed the government over the capital's horrendous air pollution, which it said was "getting worse" every day, and ordered a string of measures to bring it down.

US proposes stricter ozone limits

11 hours ago

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Wednesday to strengthen emission regulations for ozone, a smog-causing pollutant blamed for respiratory ailments affecting millions of Americans.

Deforestation drops 18 percent in Brazil's Amazon

13 hours ago

Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18 percent over the past 12 months, falling to the second-lowest level in a quarter century, Brazil's environment minister said Wednesday.

The unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

15 hours ago

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they ...

Toolkit for ocean health

18 hours ago

The ocean is undergoing global changes at a remarkable pace and we must change with it to attain our best possible future ocean, warns the head of The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.