Ocean Acidification Means Hard Times Ahead For Shellfish

hard clams

photo: Robert Rheault via flickr.

New research from Stony Brook University's School of Marine at Atmospheric Sciences shows the future isn't so pleasant for the world's clams, scallops, and oysters: In one of the first studies to look at the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish, scientists have found that "relatively minor increases in ocean acidity" have a detrimental effect on their growth, development and survival:This was the conclusion after lab experiments were conducted to examine the growth and survival of larvae from these commercially and ecologically valuable shellfish.

50% Decline in Survival This Century Possible
The claims, scallops and oysters were raised in containers containing different levels of CO2 concentration, representing projected levels set to occur in the oceans at different periods in the coming century and beyond.

When exposed to CO2 levels expected by the end of the 21st century a 50% decline in survival was observed. Additionally, larvae were smaller and took longer to develop.

According to researcher Stephanie Talmage, "A small change in the timing of larval development could have a large effect on the number of larvae that survive to the juvenile stage and could dramatically alter the composition of the entire population."

Read the original paper in: Limnology and Oceanography Abstracts
Ocean Acidification
Procrastinator's Guide to Ocean Acidification: You Are The Alien
Ocean Acidification Conference: Acidity Up 30% Since Industrial Revolution - Producing Toxic Assets for the World
Carbon Bomb Detonating Megatons Per Day, Acidifying The World's Oceans

Related Content on Treehugger.com