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High sensitivity to chronically elevated CO2 levels in a eurybathic marine sipunculid
Langenbuch, M.; Pörtner, H.O. (2004). High sensitivity to chronically elevated CO2 levels in a eurybathic marine sipunculid. Aquat. Toxicol. 70(1): 55-61.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Body composition; Body size; Climate change; Climate change; Climatic changes; Marine invertebrates; Metabolism; Survival; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Langenbuch, M.
  • Pörtner, H.O.

    CO2 levels are expected to rise (a) in surface waters of the oceans as atmospheric accumulation continues or (b) in the deep sea, once industrial CO2 dumping is implemented. These scenarios suggest that CO2 will become a general stress factor in aquatic environments. The mechanisms of sensitivity to CO2 as well as adaptation capacity of marine animals are insufficiently understood. Here, we present data obtained in Sipunculus nudus, a sediment-dwelling marine worm that is able to undergo drastic metabolic depression to survive regular exposure to elevated CO2 levels within its natural habitat. We investigated animal survival and the proximate biochemical body composition during long-term CO2 exposure. Results indicate an unexpected and pronounced sensitivity characterized by the delayed onset of enhanced mortality at CO2 levels within the natural range of concentrations. Therefore, the present study contrasts the previously assumed high-CO2 tolerance of animals adapted to temporary hypercapnia. As a consequence, we expect future loss of species and, thereby, detrimental effects on marine benthic ecosystems with as yet poorly defined critical thresholds of long-term tolerance to CO2.

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