Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 1, pp 101–110 | Cite as

Impacts of near future sea surface pH and temperature conditions on fertilisation and embryonic development in Centrostephanus rodgersii from northern New Zealand and northern New South Wales, Australia

  • D. Pecorino
  • M. F. Barker
  • S. A. Dworjanyn
  • M. Byrne
  • M. D. Lamare
Original Paper


Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic. While higher temperature and lower pH can have negative effects on fertilisation and development of marine invertebrates, warming may partially ameliorate the negative effect of lower pH. This study determined the effect of warming (3 °C) and decreased pH (0.3, 0.5, 1.1 units below ambient) on fertilisation and development in two populations of the sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii, one at its northern range limit (Coffs Harbour, New South Wales NSW, 30°27′S, 153°14′E) and the other one in New Zealand where the species may be a recent arrival (Mokohinau Islands, 35°56′S, 175°9′E). Both populations were sampled in August 2011. The two populations exhibited a differential response to temperature, while pH affected them similarly. Fertilisation was robust to pH levels forecast for 2100, and it was only slightly reduced at pH values forecast for 2300 (i.e. ≈5 and ≈8 % for the northern NSW and the New Zealand populations, respectively). Decreased pH (pH = 7.6) reduced the percentage of succeeding developmental stages. Progression through cleavage and hatching stages was faster at +3 °C in the New Zealand population but not in northern NSW urchins, while for the NSW population, there was a positive interaction between temperature and pH at hatching. Gastrulation was negatively affected by an extreme pH 7.0 treatment (60–80 % reduction) and least affected by increased temperature. The percentage of abnormal embryos at gastrulation increased significantly at +3 °C treatment in the northern NSW population. Predicted future increases in temperature may facilitate further expansion of the geographical range of C. rodgersii in New Zealand, with a minimal effect of concurrent reduced pH.



The authors wish to thank the staff of the Leigh Marine Laboratory of the University of Auckland and the staff of NMSC at Coffs Harbour for their help during the collection of the sea urchins and while running the experiments. This research was supported by a New Zealand Marine Sciences Society Student Research Grant and by a Grant of the Australian Research Council (MB, SD) that supported the construction of the facility in Coffs Harbour.

Supplementary material

227_2013_2318_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 21 kb)
227_2013_2318_MOESM2_ESM.tiff (898 kb)
Photomicrographs of a representative fertilised egg and subsequent developmental stages of Centrostephanus rodgersii. From left to right: fertilised egg, cleaved embryo, hatched blastula, gastrula and abnormal embryo. Scale bars represent 100 μm. (TIFF 897 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Pecorino
    • 1
    • 4
  • M. F. Barker
    • 1
  • S. A. Dworjanyn
    • 2
  • M. Byrne
    • 3
  • M. D. Lamare
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.National Marine Science CentreSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia
  3. 3.Schools of Medical and Biological Sciences, F13University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department for Earth, Environment and Life Sciences (DISTAV)University of GenoaGenoaItaly

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