Effects of predicted changes in ocean pCO2 and interactions with other stressors on the physiology and behavior of commercially important crabs in Alaska
Why we care
Ocean acidification disrupts the internal acid-base balance of crabs and may hinder the creation and maintenance of shells. Previous studies on commercially important crab species in Alaska found that ocean acidification changes physiology, decreases growth and condition, increases mortality, decreases hatching success, and changes exoskeleton (shell) hardness and structure in many Alaska crab species. Ocean temperature is a co-stressor, which may either decrease or increase the effects of ocean acidification on crabs. These individual effects may lead to population level decreases and impact coastal communities that rely on them if these crabs are unable to acclimate or adapt.
What we are doing
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) aims to enhance our understanding of species responses to ocean acidification, predict how changes in ocean chemistry will affect marine ecosystems and organisms, assess socioeconomic impacts, and provide ocean acidification education and outreach. This project continues to assess the physiological response to ocean acidification of early life history stages in crabs. Researchers will examine the potential for acclimation of crab species through experimentation. Experimental data will be used to inform modeling efforts to assess the dynamics of the crab populations and coastal community resilience to future environmental changes in the ocean.
Benefits of our work
The AFSC team will continue to address individual physiological responses that can be scaled to population level effects. Additionally, we will focus on cellular and molecular responses to better understand the potential for acclimation or adaptation. Results from this project will inform models, including stock assessments for long-term fisheries management through the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.