Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Acidifying oceans could hit California mussels, a key species

Date:
July 14, 2011
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Ocean acidification, a consequence of climate change, could weaken the shells of California mussels and diminish their body mass, with serious implications for coastal ecosystems.

Ocean acidification, a consequence of climate change, could weaken the shells of California mussels and diminish their body mass, with serious implications for coastal ecosystems, UC Davis researchers will report July 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

California mussels (Mytilus californianus) live in beds along the western coast of the United States from Alaska to California. More than 300 other species share the beds or depend on the mussels in some way.

"Because these mussels play such an ecologically critical role, a decline in their numbers could impact a wide range of other organisms," said Brian Gaylord, associate professor of evolution and ecology at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and first author of the paper.

Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is absorbed into the ocean, increasing its acidity. That acidity has increased by almost a third since the mid 18th century.

Mussels spend the first part of their lives swimming freely as larvae, before settling onto coastal rocks to grow into adults.

In the lab, Gaylord and his colleagues raised mussels from fertilization to the point where they were ready to settle, rearing them in both normal seawater and in water with two different conditions of elevated acidity. The acidity levels were based on projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a Geneva-based scientific body established by the United Nations. One of the elevated acid levels assumed continued heavy use of fossil fuels; the other assumed a more optimistic scenario.

Compared to those raised in normal seawater, the young mussels living in the more acid waters had smaller, thinner, weaker shells, and as much as a third less body mass.

Weaker shells would make them more vulnerable to predators like crabs that crush their prey, as well as to carnivorous snails that drill through shells, Gaylord said.

Smaller body size would make them more likely to dry out at low tide and less able to withstand the energetically expensive process of metamorphosis from a free-living larva to a settled shellfish.

"Together these trends suggest that we're likely to see lower survivorship of young mussels as they return to shore," Gaylord said.

Although not an important fishery, the California mussel is a vital coastal species because so many other marine creatures depend on it for food and habitat.

Coauthors of the study are: Associate Professor Eric Sanford, researcher Elizabeth Lenz, research technician Kirk Sato and graduate student Annaliese Hettinger, all of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology and Bodega Marine Lab; Assistant Professor Tessa Hill and technician Lisa Jacobs, of the UC Davis Department of Geology and Bodega Marine Lab; and Ann Russell, associate researcher at the UC Davis Department of Geology.

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation, the UC Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives office, and the UC Davis Academic Senate Committee on Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Gaylord, Tessa M. Hill, Eric Sanford, Elizabeth A. Lenz, Lisa A. Jacobs, Kirk N. Sato, Ann D. Russell, Annaliese Hettinger. Functional impacts of ocean acidification in an ecologically critical foundation species. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2011; 214: 2586-2594 DOI: 10.1242/%u200Bjeb.055939

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Acidifying oceans could hit California mussels, a key species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714072946.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2011, July 14). Acidifying oceans could hit California mussels, a key species. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714072946.htm
University of California - Davis. "Acidifying oceans could hit California mussels, a key species." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714072946.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins