Articles | Volume 6, issue 12
15 Dec 2009
 | 15 Dec 2009

Near-future levels of ocean acidification do not affect sperm motility and fertilization kinetics in the oyster Crassostrea gigas

J. N. Havenhand and P. Schlegel

Abstract. An increasing number of studies are now reporting the effects of ocean acidification on a broad range of marine species, processes and systems. Many of these are investigating the sensitive early life-history stages that several major reviews have highlighted as being potentially most susceptible to ocean acidification. Nonetheless there remain few investigations of the effects of ocean acidification on the very earliest, and critical, process of fertilization, and still fewer that have investigated levels of ocean acidification relevant for the coming century. Here we report the effects of near-future levels of ocean acidification (≈−0.35 pH unit change) on sperm swimming speed, sperm motility, and fertilization kinetics in a population of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas from western Sweden. We found no significant effect of ocean acidification – a result that was well-supported by power analysis. Similar findings from Japan suggest that this may be a globally robust result, and we emphasise the need for experiments on multiple populations from throughout a species' range. We also discuss the importance of sound experimental design and power analysis in meaningful interpretation of non-significant results.

Final-revised paper