Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are acidifying the world’s oceans. A growing body of evidence is showing that ocean acidification impacts growth and developmental rates of marine invertebrates. Here we test the impact of elevated seawater pCO2 (129 Pa, 1271 μatm) on early development, larval metabolic and feeding rates in a marine model organism, the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. Growth and development was assessed by measuring total body length, body rod length, postoral rod length and posterolateral rod length. Comparing these parameters between treatments suggests that larvae suffer from a developmental delay (by ca. 8%) rather than from the previously postulated reductions in size at comparable developmental stages. Further, we found maximum increases in respiration rates of + 100 % under elevated pCO2, while body length corrected feeding rates did not differ between larvae from both treatments. Calculating scope for growth illustrates that larvae raised under high pCO2 spent an average of 39 to 45% of the available energy for somatic growth, while control larvae could allocate between 78 and 80% of the available energy into growth processes. Our results highlight the importance of defining a standard frame of reference when comparing a given parameter between treatments, as observed differences can be easily due to comparison of different larval ages with their specific set of biological characters.
Stumpp M., Wren J., Melzner F., Thorndyke M. C., & Dupont S., in press. CO2 induced seawater acidification impacts sea urchin larval development I: elevated metabolic rates decrease scope for growth and induce developmental delay. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology – Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology. doi:10.1016/j.cbpa.2011.06.022. Article (subscription required).