Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 8, pp 2129–2135 | Cite as

Ocean acidification induces budding in larval sea urchins

  • Kit Yu Karen ChanEmail author
  • Daniel Grünbaum
  • Maj Arnberg
  • Michael Thorndyke
  • Sam T. Dupont
Original Paper


Ocean acidification (OA), the reduction of ocean pH due to hydration of atmospheric CO2, is known to affect growth and survival of marine invertebrate larvae. Survival and transport of vulnerable planktonic larval stages play important roles in determining population dynamics and community structures in coastal ecosystems. Here, we show that larvae of the purple urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, underwent high-frequency budding (release of blastula-like particles) when exposed to elevated pCO2 level (>700 μatm). Budding was observed in >50 % of the population and was synchronized over short periods of time (~24 h), suggesting this phenomenon may be previously overlooked. Although budding can be a mechanism through which larval echinoids asexually reproduce, here, the released buds did not develop into viable clones. OA-induced budding and the associated reduction in larval size suggest new hypotheses regarding physiological and ecological tradeoffs between short-term benefits (e.g. metabolic savings and predation escape) and long-term costs (e.g. tissue loss and delayed development) in the face of climate change.


Ocean Acidification Elevated pCO2 pCO2 Level pCO2 Treatment Ocean Acidification Condition 
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.



We thank R. Strathmann for his helpful comments, the valuable suggestions from the reviewers, staff, and research scientists at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences for logistic support and insightful discussions. K.C. was partially funded by a Boeing International Fellowship. D.G and K.C. were supported by Washington Sea Grant (NA10OAR4170057). 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. This paper is a contribution to the “Sub-seabed carbon storage and the marine environment”, (ECO2) a Collaborative Project funded under the European Commission’s Framework Seven Program Topic OCEAN.2010.3, project number 265847.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kit Yu Karen Chan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel Grünbaum
    • 1
  • Maj Arnberg
    • 3
  • Michael Thorndyke
    • 4
  • Sam T. Dupont
    • 4
  1. 1.School of OceanographyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  3. 3.IRIS-International Research Institute of StavangerStavangerNorway
  4. 4.Department of Environmental and Biological SciencesUniversity of Gothenburg, The Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences-KristinebergFiskebäckskilSweden

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