Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 9, pp 2061–2069 | Cite as

Fertilization in a suite of coastal marine invertebrates from SE Australia is robust to near-future ocean warming and acidification

  • Maria ByrneEmail author
  • Natalie A. Soars
  • Melanie A. Ho
  • Eunice Wong
  • David McElroy
  • Paulina Selvakumaraswamy
  • Symon A. Dworjanyn
  • Andrew R. Davis
Original Paper


Climate change driven ocean acidification and hypercapnia may have a negative impact on fertilization in marine organisms because of the narcotic effect these stressors exert on sperm. In contrast, warmer, less viscous water may have a positive influence on sperm swimming speed and so ocean warming may enhance fertilization. To address questions on future vulnerabilities we examined the interactive effects of near-future ocean warming and ocean acidification/hypercapnia on fertilization in intertidal and shallow subtidal echinoids (Heliocidaris erythrogramma, H. tuberculata, Tripneustes gratilla, Centrostephanus rodgersii), an asteroid (Patiriella regularis) and an abalone (Haliotis coccoradiata). Batches of eggs from multiple females were fertilized by sperm from multiple males in all combinations of three temperature and three \( {\text{pH}}/P_{{{\text{CO}}_{2} }} \) treatments. Experiments were placed in the setting of projected near-future conditions for southeast Australia, an ocean change hot spot. There was no significant effect of warming and acidification on the percentage of fertilization. These results indicate that fertilization in these species is robust to temperature and \( {\text{pH}}/P_{{{\text{CO}}_{2} }} \) fluctuation. This may reflect adaptation to the marked fluctuation in temperature and pH that characterises their shallow water coastal habitats. Efforts to identify potential impacts of ocean change to the life histories of coastal marine invertebrates are best to focus on more vulnerable embryonic and larval stages because of their long time in the water column where seawater chemistry and temperature have a major impact on development.


Ocean Acidification Sperm Concentration Ocean Warming Ocean Change Multifactorial Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research was supported by an Australian Research Council Grant (MB, AD). The reviewers are thanked for helpful comments. This work is contribution 293 from the Institute for Conservation Biology Wollongong and 36 from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Byrne
    • 1
    Email author
  • Natalie A. Soars
    • 2
  • Melanie A. Ho
    • 2
  • Eunice Wong
    • 2
  • David McElroy
    • 2
  • Paulina Selvakumaraswamy
    • 2
  • Symon A. Dworjanyn
    • 3
  • Andrew R. Davis
    • 4
  1. 1.Schools of Medical and Biological Sciences, F13University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Medical Sciences, F13University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.National Marine Science CentreSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia
  4. 4.Institute for Conservation BiologyUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

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