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      Ocean acidification disrupts the innate ability of fish to detect predator olfactory cues

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      Ecology Letters

      Wiley

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          Abstract

          While ocean acidification is predicted to threaten marine biodiversity, the processes that directly impact species persistence are not well understood. For marine species, early life history stages are inherently vulnerable to predators and an innate ability to detect predators can be critical for survival. However, whether or not acidification inhibits predator detection is unknown. Here, we show that newly hatched larvae of the marine fish Amphiprion percula innately detect predators using olfactory cues and this ability is retained through to settlement. Aquarium-reared larvae, not previously exposed to predators, were able to distinguish between the olfactory cues of predatory and non-predatory species. However, when eggs and larvae were exposed to seawater simulating ocean acidification (pH 7.8 and 1000 p.p.m. CO2) settlement-stage larvae became strongly attracted to the smell of predators and the ability to discriminate between predators and non-predators was lost. Newly hatched larvae were unaffected by CO2 exposure and were still able to distinguish between predatory and non-predatory fish. If this impairment of olfactory preferences in settlement-stage larvae translates to higher mortality as a result of increased predation risk, there could be direct consequences for the replenishment and the sustainability of marine populations.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Volcanic carbon dioxide vents show ecosystem effects of ocean acidification.

          The atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide (p(CO(2))) will almost certainly be double that of pre-industrial levels by 2100 and will be considerably higher than at any time during the past few million years. The oceans are a principal sink for anthropogenic CO(2) where it is estimated to have caused a 30% increase in the concentration of H(+) in ocean surface waters since the early 1900s and may lead to a drop in seawater pH of up to 0.5 units by 2100 (refs 2, 3). Our understanding of how increased ocean acidity may affect marine ecosystems is at present very limited as almost all studies have been in vitro, short-term, rapid perturbation experiments on isolated elements of the ecosystem. Here we show the effects of acidification on benthic ecosystems at shallow coastal sites where volcanic CO(2) vents lower the pH of the water column. Along gradients of normal pH (8.1-8.2) to lowered pH (mean 7.8-7.9, minimum 7.4-7.5), typical rocky shore communities with abundant calcareous organisms shifted to communities lacking scleractinian corals with significant reductions in sea urchin and coralline algal abundance. To our knowledge, this is the first ecosystem-scale validation of predictions that these important groups of organisms are susceptible to elevated amounts of p(CO(2)). Sea-grass production was highest in an area at mean pH 7.6 (1,827 (mu)atm p(CO(2))) where coralline algal biomass was significantly reduced and gastropod shells were dissolving due to periods of carbonate sub-saturation. The species populating the vent sites comprise a suite of organisms that are resilient to naturally high concentrations of p(CO(2)) and indicate that ocean acidification may benefit highly invasive non-native algal species. Our results provide the first in situ insights into how shallow water marine communities might change when susceptible organisms are removed owing to ocean acidification.
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            RECRUITMENT AND THE LOCAL DYNAMICS OF OPEN MARINE POPULATIONS

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              Ocean acidification impairs olfactory discrimination and homing ability of a marine fish.

              The persistence of most coastal marine species depends on larvae finding suitable adult habitat at the end of an offshore dispersive stage that can last weeks or months. We tested the effects that ocean acidification from elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO(2)) could have on the ability of larvae to detect olfactory cues from adult habitats. Larval clownfish reared in control seawater (pH 8.15) discriminated between a range of cues that could help them locate reef habitat and suitable settlement sites. This discriminatory ability was disrupted when larvae were reared in conditions simulating CO(2)-induced ocean acidification. Larvae became strongly attracted to olfactory stimuli they normally avoided when reared at levels of ocean pH that could occur ca. 2100 (pH 7.8) and they no longer responded to any olfactory cues when reared at pH levels (pH 7.6) that might be attained later next century on a business-as-usual carbon-dioxide emissions trajectory. If acidification continues unabated, the impairment of sensory ability will reduce population sustainability of many marine species, with potentially profound consequences for marine diversity.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                ELE
                Ecology Letters
                Wiley
                1461023X
                14610248
                January 2010
                January 2010
                : 13
                : 1
                : 68-75
                Article
                10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01400.x
                19917053
                © 2010

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