The Effect of Increasing Acidity and Temperature On An Early Life Stage Crustacean, Callinectes Sapidus

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Fantasia-Buscher, Christina, Environmental Sciences - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Macko, Stephen, AS-Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia

The Atlantic blue crab is an important keystone and commercial species within the Chesapeake Bay, with current management practices successfully maintaining the population. However, future environmental conditions caused by increasing carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources may impact these gains. In other decapods early life stages are most vulnerable to acidification, however little research has explored the response of larval blue crabs. With continued absorption of excess CO 2 into surface waters, the pH of these waters continue to decrease and may affect blue crab larval development. I determined the effects of increased acidity (pH 7.8, 7.4, & 6.8) on morphology, mortality, development, and protein and lipid content of embryos and larval blue crabs over a period of 16 and 7 days, respectively. Embryonic development is delayed, whereas larval survival and lipid content declines with increasing acidity. Morphology and protein content were unaffected in larvae, with the exception of shortened dorsal spine length at the highest acidity. Combining increased temperatures (23, 26, & 28 C) with acidification caused further declines in survival and lipid content, with new losses in protein content and swimming activity. No changes were observed in morphology or calcium content. Unless blue crabs are able to adapt at a rapid rate, these results denote negative outcomes for future populations and illustrate the need to explore mitigation strategies along with continued studies on adaptation.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
early life stage, crustacean, ocean acidification, Callinectes sapidus
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