Effects of ocean acidification on larval Atlantic surfclam (Spisula solidissima) from Long Island Sound in Connecticut


Shannon L. Meseck, Renee Mercaldo-Allen, Paul Clark, Catherine Kuropat, Dylan Redman, David Veilleux, and Lisa Milke
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Published online 25 May 2021

The Atlantic surfclam (Spisula solidissima) supports a $29.2-million fishery on the northeastern coast of the United States. Increasing global carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has resulted in a decrease in ocean pH, known as ocean acidification (OA), in Atlantic surfclam habitat. The effects of OA on larval Atlantic surfclam were investigated for 28 d by using 3 different levels of partial pressure of CO2 (ρCO2): low (344 μatm), medium (821 μatm), and high (1243 μatm). Samples were taken to examine growth, shell height, time to metamorphosis, survival, and lipid concentration. Larvae exposed to a medium ρCO2 level had a hormetic response with significantly greater shell height and growth rates and a higher percentage that metamorphosed by day 28 than larvae exposed to the high- and low-level treatments. No significant difference in survival was observed between treatments. Although no significant difference was found in lipid concentration, Atlantic surfclam did have a similar hormetic response for concentrations of phospholipids, sterols, and triacylglycerols and for the ratio of sterols to phospholipids, indicating that larvae may have a homeoviscous adaptation to OA at medium ρCO2 levels. Our results indicate that larval Atlantic surfclam have some tolerance to slightly elevated ρCO2 concentrations but that, at high ρCO2 levels, they may be susceptible to OA.