Negligible effects of ocean acidification on Eurytemora affinis (Copepoda) offspring production
Abstract. Ocean acidification is caused by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide dissolving in the oceans leading to lower seawater pH. We studied the effects of lowered pH on the calanoid copepod Eurytemora affinis during a mesocosm experiment conducted in a coastal area of the Baltic Sea. We measured copepod reproductive success as a function of pH, chlorophyll a concentration, diatom and dinoflagellate biomass, carbon to nitrogen (C : N) ratio of suspended particulate organic matter, as well as copepod fatty acid composition. The laboratory-based experiment was repeated four times during 4 consecutive weeks, with water and copepods sampled from pelagic mesocosms enriched with different CO2 concentrations. In addition, oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of animals from the mesocosms was measured weekly to test whether the copepod's defence against oxidative stress was affected by pH. We found no effect of pH on offspring production. Phytoplankton biomass, as indicated by chlorophyll a concentration and dinoflagellate biomass, had a positive effect. The concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the females was reflected in the eggs and had a positive effect on offspring production, whereas monounsaturated fatty acids of the females were reflected in their eggs but had no significant effect. ORAC was not affected by pH. From these experiments we conclude that E. affinis seems robust against direct exposure to ocean acidification on a physiological level, for the variables covered in the study. E. affinis may not have faced acute pH stress in the treatments as the species naturally face large pH fluctuations.