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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 274:161-169 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps274161

Effects of increased atmospheric CO2 on sea urchin early development

H. Kurihara*, Y. Shirayama

Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, Kyoto University, 459 Shirahama, Nishimuro, Wakayama, 649-2211, Japan

ABSTRACT: Increased carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere will change the balance of the components of carbonate chemistry and reduce the pH at the ocean surface. Here, we report the effects of increased CO2 concentration on the early development of the sea urchins Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus and Echinometra mathaei. We examined the fertilization, early cleavage, and pluteus larval stage to evaluate the impact of elevated CO2 concentration on fertilization rate, cleavage rate, developmental speed, and pluteus larval morphology. Furthermore, we compared the effects of CO2 and HCl at the same pH in an attempt to elucidate any differences between the two. We found that fertilization rate, cleavage rate, developmental speed, and pluteus larval size all tended to decrease with increasing CO2 concentration. Furthermore, CO2-seawater had a more severe effect than HCl-seawater on the fertilization rate. By contrast, the effects on cleavage rate, developmental speed, and pluteus larval morphology were similar for CO2- and HCl-seawater. Our results suggest that both decreased pH and altered carbonate chemistry affect the early development and life history of marine animals, implying that increased seawater CO2 concentration will seriously alter marine ecosystems. The effects of CO2 itself on marine organisms therefore requires further clarification.

KEY WORDS: CO2 · pH · Sea urchin · Early development · Biological impact · Global change

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