Impact of ocean acidification and warming on respiration, heart rate and acid-base status of Mytilus edulis from the North Sea


Anthropogenic climate change confronts marine organisms with rapid trends of concomitant warming and CO2 induced ocean acidification. The survival and distribution of species partly depend on their ability to exploit their physiological plasticity during acclimatization. Therefore, in laboratory studies the effects of simulated future ocean acidification on thermal tolerance, energy metabolism and acid-base regulation capacity of the North Sea population of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis were examined. Following one month of pre-acclimation to 10 °C and control CO2 levels, mussels were exposed for two weeks to control and projected oceanic CO2 levels (390, 750 and 1120 µatm) before being subjected to a stepwise warming protocol between 10 °C and 31 °C (+ 3 °C each night). Oxygen consumption and heart rates, anaerobic metabolite levels and haemolymph acid-base status were determined at each temperature. CO2 exposure left oxygen consumption rate unchanged at acclimation temperature but caused a somewhat stronger increase during acute warming and thus mildly higher Q10-values than seen in controls. Interestingly, the thermally induced limitation of oxygen consumption rate set in earlier in normocapnic than in hypercapnic (1120 µatm CO2) mussels (25.2 °C vs. 28.8 °C), likely due to an onset of metabolic depression in the control group following warming. However, the temperature induced increase in heart rate became limited above 25 °C in both groups indicating an unchanged pejus temperature regardless of CO2 treatment. An upper critical temperature was reached above 28 °C in both treatments indicated by the accumulation of anaerobic metabolites in the mantle tissue, paralleled by a strong increase in haemolymph PCO2 at 31 °C. Ocean acidification caused a decrease in haemolymph pH. The extracellular acidosis remained largely uncompensated despite some bicarbonate accumulation. In all treatments animals developed a progressive warming-induced extracellular acidosis. A stronger pH drop at around 25 °C was followed by stagnating heart rates. However, normocapnic mussels enhanced bicarbonate accumulation at the critical limit, a strategy no longer available to hypercapnic mussels. In conclusion, CO2 has small effects on the response patterns of mussels to warming, leaving thermal thresholds largely unaffected. High resilience of adult North Sea mussels to future ocean acidification indicates that sensitivity to thermal stress is more relevant in shaping the response to future climate change.

Supplement to: Zittier, Zora M C; Bock, Christian; Lannig, Gisela; Pörtner, Hans-Otto (2015): Impact of ocean acidification on thermal tolerance and acid–base regulation of Mytilus edulis (L.) from the North Sea. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 473, 16-25

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Metadata Access
Creator Zittier, Zora M C ORCID logo; Bock, Christian ORCID logo; Lannig, Gisela (ORCID: 0000-0002-9210-256X); Pörtner, Hans-Otto ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2015
Funding Reference Seventh Framework Programme Crossref Funder ID 211384 European Project on Ocean Acidification
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 2408 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (7.890 LON, 54.190 LAT); Helgoland, North Sea