Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 8, pp 1835–1843 | Cite as

Long-term and trans-life-cycle effects of exposure to ocean acidification in the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis

  • S. Dupont
  • N. Dorey
  • M. Stumpp
  • F. Melzner
  • M. Thorndyke
Original Paper


Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are acidifying the world’s oceans. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that ocean acidification can impact survival, growth, development and physiology of marine invertebrates. Here, we tested the impact of long-term (up to 16 months) and trans-life-cycle (adult, embryo/larvae and juvenile) exposure to elevated pCO2 (1,200 μatm, compared to control 400 μatm) on the green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. Female fecundity was decreased 4.5-fold when acclimated to elevated pCO2 for 4 months during reproductive conditioning, while no difference was observed in females acclimated for 16 months. Moreover, adult pre-exposure for 4 months to elevated pCO2 had a direct negative impact on subsequent larval settlement success. Five to nine times fewer offspring reached the juvenile stage in cultures using gametes collected from adults previously acclimated to high pCO2 for 4 months. However, no difference in larval survival was observed when adults were pre-exposed for 16 months to elevated pCO2. pCO2 had no direct negative impact on juvenile survival except when both larvae and juveniles were raised in elevated pCO2. These negative effects on settlement success and juvenile survival can be attributed to carry-over effects from adults to larvae and from larvae to juveniles. Our results support the contention that adult sea urchins can acclimate to moderately elevated pCO2 in a matter of a few months and that carry-over effects can exacerbate the negative impact of ocean acidification on larvae and juveniles.


Ocean Acidification Settlement Success High pCO2 Elevated pCO2 Brittle Star 
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.



SD is funded by the Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology at the University of Gothenburg ( and supported by a Linnaeus-grant from the Swedish Research Councils VR and Formas; VR and Formas grants to MT; Knut and Alice Wallenberg’s minnen and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. FM is funded by the DFG Excellence Cluster “Future Ocean” and the German “Biological impacts of ocean acidification (BIOACID)” project 3.1.4, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, FKZ 03F0608A). This paper is a contribution to NoAA. and the “European Project on Ocean Acidification” (EPOCA) that received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n°211384.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Dupont
    • 1
  • N. Dorey
    • 1
  • M. Stumpp
    • 1
  • F. Melzner
    • 2
  • M. Thorndyke
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine SciencesUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Biological OceanographyLeibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR)KielGermany
  3. 3.The Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesThe Sven Lovén Centre for Marine SciencesGothenburgSweden

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