Thu, 20 Jun 2013
Rapid Adaptation May Protect Urchins Against Ocean Acidification
Rising CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere is leading to the acidification of the ocean as the CO2 is absorbed. The purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) - recognized by its calcareous exoskeleton and spines - is an important kelp forest species. It is expected that increasing acidity will lower concentrations of calcium carbonate, and hamper urchins' ability to maintain their shells. SBC researchers Morgan Kelly, Jacqueline Padilla-Gamino and Gretchen Hofmann experimentally bred generations of urchins under high levels of CO2. They found that some animals had developed a tolerance for higher CO2 levels, and that this trait was passed on to their offspring, indicating that evolution may be able to mitigate some of the effects of a more acidic ocean (full story).
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