Tough as a rock-boring urchin: adult Echinometra sp. EE from the Red Sea show high resistance to ocean acidification over long-term exposures
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Hazan, Y., Wangensteen, O.S. & Fine, M. Mar Biol (2014) 161: 2531. doi:10.1007/s00227-014-2525-4
- 484 Downloads
Ocean acidification, a process caused by the continuous rise of atmospheric CO2 levels, is expected to have a profound impact on marine invertebrates. Findings of the numerous studies conducted in this field indicate high variability in species responses to future ocean conditions. This study aimed at understanding the effects of long-term exposure to elevated pCO2 conditions on the performance of adult Echinometra sp. EE from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea). During an 11-month incubation under high pCO2 (1,433 μatm, pHNBS 7.7) and control (435 μatm, pHNBS 8.1) conditions, we examined the urchins’ somatic and gonadal growth, gametogenesis and skeletal microstructure. Somatic and gonadal growths were exhibited with no significant differences between the treatments. In addition, all urchins in the experiment completed a full reproductive cycle, typical of natural populations, with no detectable impact of increased pCO2 on the timing, duration or progression of the cycle. Furthermore, scanning electron microscopy imaging of urchin tests and spines revealed no signs of the usual observed effects of acidosis, such as skeletal dissolution, widened stereom pores or non-smoothed structures. Our results, which yielded no significant impact of the high pCO2 treatment on any of the examined processes in the urchins studied, suggest high resistance of adult Echinometra sp. EE to near future ocean acidification conditions. With respect to other findings in this area, the outcome of this study provides an example of the complicated and diverse responses of echinoids to the predicted environmental changes.