Sea Urchin Project
This is an exciting new project for Bravo 134 - a study of the interaction of ocean warming and ocean acidification and how Antarctic sea urchins will be responsive to such changes in their environment.
For the upcoming work, we will focus on the effect of ocean acidification on the development and physiology of early life history stages of the circum-Antarctic sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri. A developing body of evidence suggests that there is species-specific variation in response to OA, with early life history stages being perhaps more vulnerable and that Antarctic species might be particularly vulnerable (Andersson et al. 2008, McNeil & Mateur 2008, Barnes & Peck 2008).
In the first series of studies, we will use several metrics to examine the physiological plasticity of contemporary urchin embryos and larvae to CO2-acidified seawater, to mimic the OA scenario as defined by IPCC emission scenarios (Meehl et al. 2007) and by analyses of future ocean acidification in the Southern Ocean (McNeil & Mateur 2008). In a final study, we hope to learn about the biological consequences of developing under conditions of OA and further, whether embryos and larvae of this cold-water calcifier are effected by synergistic interactions of two converging environmental stressors – CO2-driven acidification and ocean warming. We also plan to deploy pH sensors on the benthos in McMurdo Sound in order to get a better idea of what the urchins are experiencing now in terms of the interaction to pH and temperature.