Reduced pH sea water disrupts chemo-responsive behaviour in an intertidal crustacean

de la Haye, KL, Spicer, JI, Widdicombe, S and Briffa, M 2012 Reduced pH sea water disrupts chemo-responsive behaviour in an intertidal crustacean. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 412. 134 - 140.

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Chemoreception is a key activity by which many aquatic animals perceive their environment, and therefore abiotic disruptions to this process could have serious impacts on the survival and fitness of individuals, and on species interactions. Hermit crabs are subject to cyclical reductions in the pH of the water in the intertidal rock pools that they inhabit. Such reductions may be further exacerbated by ongoing ocean acidification and/or leakage of carbon dioxide from geological storage sites and coastal upwelling events. Here we test the chemo-sensory responses of the hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus (Linnaeus) to a food odour under reduced pH conditions (pHNBS = 6.80). Acidifying the odour had no effect on its attractiveness indicating no permanent degradation of the cue; however, the pH of the sea water did affect the crabs' responses. Hermit crabs kept and tested in reduced pH sea water had lower antennular flicking rates (the ‘sniffing’ response in decapods); were less successful in locating the odour source, and showed an overall decline in locomotory activity compared to those in untreated sea water. Analysis of their haemolymph revealed a greater concentration of chloride ions ([Cl−]) in the reduced pH treatment group, suggesting iono-regulatory disruption; however, there was no correlation between [Cl−] and locomotory activity, suggesting a specific effect on chemoreception. This study shows that the chemo-responsiveness of a crustacean may be influenced by both naturally occurring pH fluctuations and future anthropogenically-induced changes in ocean pH.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Subjects: Chemistry
Ecology and Environment
Marine Sciences
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Life Support Systems (expired)
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date made live: 11 Feb 2014 15:58
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 16:09

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