Effects of Reduced Carbonate Saturation State on Early Development in the Common Edible Sea Urchin Lytechinus variegatus: Implications for Land-Based Aquaculture

Academic Article


  • Land-based aquaculture facilities often utilize additional bicarbonate sources such as commercial sea salts that are designed to boost alkalinity in order to buffer seawater against reductions in pH. Despite these preventative measures, many facilities are likely to face occasional reductions in pH and corresponding reductions in carbonate saturation states due to the accumulation of metabolic waste products. We investigated the impact of reduced carbonate saturation states (ΩCa, ΩAr) on embryonic developmental rates, larval developmental rates, and echinoplutei skeletal morphometrics in the common edible sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus under high alkalinity conditions. Commercial artificial seawater was bubbled with a mixture of air and CO2 gas to reduce the carbonate saturation state. Rates of embryonic and larval development were significantly delayed in both the low and extreme low carbonate saturation state groups relative to the control at a given time. Although symmetry of overall skeletal body lengths was not affected, allometric relationships were significantly different between treatment groups. Larvae reared under ambient conditions had significantly greater postoral arm and overall body lengths relative to body lengths than larvae grown under extreme low carbonate saturation state conditions, indicating that extreme changes in the carbonate system affected not only developmental rates but also larval skeletal shape. Reduced rates of embryonic development and delayed and altered larval skeletal growth are likely to negatively impact larval culturing of L. variegatus in land-based, intensive culture situations where calcite and aragonite saturation states are lowered by the accumulation of metabolic waste products. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Challener RC; McClintock JB; Makowsky R
  • Start Page

  • 154
  • End Page

  • 175
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 2