This study evaluated the impact of medium-term exposure to elevated pCO2 levels (750-1200ppm) on the physiological processes of juvenile Mytilus chilensis mussels over a period of 70d in a mesocosm system. Three equilibration tanks filled with filtered seawater were adjusted to three pCO2 levels: ∼380 (control), ∼750 and ∼1200ppm by bubbling air or an air-CO2 mixture through the water. For the control, atmospheric air (with aprox. 380ppm CO2) was bubbled into the tank; for the 750 and 1200ppm treatments, dry air and pure CO2 were blended to each target concentration using mass flow controllers for air and CO2. No impact on feeding activity was observed at the beginning of the experiment, but a significant reduction in clearance rate was observed after 35d of exposure to highly acidified seawater. Absorption rate and absorption efficiency were reduced at high pCO2 levels. In addition, oxygen uptake fell significantly under these conditions, indicating a metabolic depression. These physiological responses of the mussels resulted in a significant reduction of energy available for growth (scope for growth) with important consequences for the aquaculture of this species during medium-term exposure to acid conditions. The results of this study clearly indicate that high pCO2 levels in the seawater have a negative effect on the health of M. chilensis. Therefore, the predicted acidification of seawater associated with global climate change could be harmful to this ecologically and commercially important mussel.
- Ocean acidification
- Scope for growth