Rising anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolving into coastal waters is decreasing the pH and carbonate ion concentration, thereby lowering the saturation state of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) minerals through a process named ocean acidification (OA). The unprecedented threats posed by such low pH on calcifying larvae of several edible oyster species have not yet been fully explored. Effects of low pH (7.9, 7.6, 7.4) on early growth phase of Portuguese oyster (Crassostrea angulata) veliger larvae was examined at ambient salinity (34 ppt) and the low-salinity (27 ppt) treatment. Additionally, the combined effect of pH (8.1, 7.6), salinity (24 and 34 ppt) and temperature (24 °C and 30 °C) were examined using factorial experimental design. Surprisingly, the early growth phase from hatching to 5-day-old veliger stage showed high tolerance to pH 7.9 and pH 7.6 at both 34 ppt and 27 ppt. Larval shell area was significantly smaller at pH 7.4 only in low-salinity. In the 3-factor experiment, shell area was affected by salinity and the interaction between salinity and temperature but not by other combinations. Larvae produced the largest shell at the elevated temperature in low-salinity, regardless of pH. Thus the growth of the Portuguese oyster larvae appears to be robust to near-future pH level (> 7.6) when combined with projected elevated temperature and low-salinity in the coastal aquaculture zones of South China Sea.
Thiyagarajan V. & Ko G. W. K., in press. Larval growth response of the Portuguese oyster (Crassostrea angulata) to multiple climate change stressors. Aquaculture. doi: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2012.09.025. Article (subscription required).