Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Acidifying oceans could hit California mussels, a key species

14.07.2011
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.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Staying in Shape
16.08.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

nachricht Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria
16.08.2018 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Staying in Shape

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Diving robots find Antarctic seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide in winter

16.08.2018 | Earth Sciences

Protein droplets keep neurons at the ready and immune system in balance

16.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>