Environmental Physiology & Marine Climate Change
Global climate change has profound implications for coastal marine ecosystems and current predictions include an increase in average sea-surface temperatures, ocean acidification (OA) due to the increase in dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), altered ocean circulation patterns, and a rise in sea level. Recent evidence from polar, temperate, and tropical ecosystems has shown that climate change has already affected the distribution and local abundance of many marine organisms. Because temperature has pervasive effects on biochemical and physiological rate processes and plays a fundamental role in shaping the distribution and abundance of marine organisms, one of the direct consequences of global change is a possible shift in species distributions, or “hot spots” of species loss, as a result of thermal stress. In addition, there is growing concern that ocean acidification and its consequences for marine organisms may also be an important driver of future ecological change in marine ecosystems. We are studying juvenile rockfishes to understand the consequences of growing up in a high-CO2, high-temperature world. To date, few studies have been conducted on effects of OA on non-calcifying marine organisms such as fishes. We chose the temperate rockfishes for our investigations for several reasons, including their economic and ecological importance in Pacific marine ecosystems, and life history traits (such as long life and slow maturation) may make populations particularly sensitive to negative impacts. We are measuring a suite of performance indices ranging from whole organism aerobic scope, growth and developmental indices, genomics (in collaborations with A. Todgham), and proteomics (in collaboration with L. Tomanek) to assess whether or not these organisms have the physiological plasticity or resilience to tolerate and perform in the face of environmental shifts associated with climate change.