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.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University
Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences