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Impact of ocean acidification and elevated temperatures on early juveniles of the polar shelled pteropod Limacina helicina: mortality, shell degradation, and shell growth

DOI: 10.5194/bgd-7-8177-2010

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Due to their aragonitic shell thecosome pteropods may be particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification driven by anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This applies specifically to species inhabiting Arctic surface waters that are projected to become locally undersaturated with respect to aragonite as early as 2016. This study investigated the effects of rising pCO2 partial pressures and elevated temperature on pre-winter juveniles of the polar pteropod Limacina helicina. After a 29 days experiment in September/October 2009 at three different temperatures and under pCO2 scenarios projected for this century, mortality, shell degradation, shell diameter and shell increment were investigated. Temperature and pCO2 had a significant effect on mortality, but temperature was the overriding factor. Shell diameter, shell increment and shell degradation were significantly impacted by pCO2 but not by temperature. Mortality was 46% higher at 8 °C compared to 3 °C (in situ), and 14% higher at 1100 μatm CO2 as compared to 230 μatm CO2. Shell diameter and increment were reduced by 10% and 12% at 1100 μatm CO2 as compared to 230 μatm CO2, respectively, and shell degradation was 41% higher at elevated compared to ambient pCO2 partial pressures. We conclude that pre-winter juveniles will be negatively affected by both rising temperature and pCO2 which may result in a possible abundance decline of the overwintering population, the basis for next year's reproduction.


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