Pacific oysters do not compensate growth retardation following extreme acidification events

Ocean acidification caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions alters the growth of marine calcifiers. Although the immediate effects of acidification from global ocean models have been well studied on calcifiers, their recovery capacity over a wide range of pH has never been evaluated. This aspect is crucial because acidification events that arise in coastal areas can far exceed global ocean predictions. However, such acidification events could occur transiently, allowing for recovery periods during which the effects on growth would be compensated, maintained or amplified. Here we evaluated the recovery capacity of a model calcifier, the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. We exposed juveniles to 15 pH conditions between 6.4 and 7.8 for 14 days. Oyster growth was retarded below pH 7.1 while shells were corroded at pH 6.5. We then placed the oysters under ambient pH > 7.8 for 42 days. Growth retardation persisted at pH levels below pH 7.1 even after the stress was removed. However, despite persistent retardation, growth has resumed rapidly suggesting that the oysters can recover from extreme acidification. Yet we found that the differences in individual weight between pH conditions below 7.1 increased over time, and thus the growth retardation cannot be compensated and may affect the fitness of the bivalves.


bivalve, ocean acidification, compensatory growth, phenotypic plasticity, tipping point, recovery

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Lutier Mathieu, Pernet Fabrice, Di poi Broussard Carole (2023). Pacific oysters do not compensate growth retardation following extreme acidification events. Biology Letters. 19 (8). 20230185 (6p.).,

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