Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Expanding evaluation of ocean acidification responses in a marine gadid: elevated CO2 impacts development, but not size of larval walleye pollock

Citation: Hurst, T.P., Copeman, L.A., Andrade, J.F. et al. Expanding evaluation of ocean acidification responses in a marine gadid: elevated CO2 impacts development, but not size of larval walleye pollock. Mar Biol 168, 119 (2021).

Responses of marine populations to climate conditions reflect the integration of a suite of complex and interrelated physiological and behavioral responses at the individual level. Many of these responses are not immediately reflected in changes to survival, but may impact growth or survival at later life stages. Understanding the broad range of impacts of rising CO2 concentrations on marine fishes is critical to predicting the consequences of ongoing ocean acidification. Walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) support the largest single-species fishery in the world and provide a critical forage base throughout north Pacific ecosystems. Previous studies of high CO2 effects on early life stages of walleye pollock have suggested a general resiliency in this species, but those studies focused primarily on growth and survival rates. Here, we expand on earlier studies with an independent experiment focused on walleye pollock larval development, swimming behavior, and lipid composition from fertilization to 4 weeks post-hatch at ambient (~ 425 µatm) and elevated (~ 1230 µatm) CO2 levels. Consistent with previous observations, size metrics of walleye pollock were generally insensitive to CO2 treatment. However, 4-week post-hatch larvae had significantly reduced rates of swim bladder inflation. A modest change in the swimming behavior of post-feeding larvae was observed at four, but not at 2 weeks post-hatch. Although there were no differences in overall lipid levels between CO2 treatments, the ratio of energy storage lipids (triacylglycerols) to structural membrane lipids (sterols) was lower among larvae reared at high CO2 levels. Although we observed higher survival to 4 weeks post-hatch among fish reared at high CO2 levels, the observations of reduced swim bladder inflation rates and changes in lipid cycling suggest the presence of sub-lethal effects of acidification that may carry over and manifest in later life stages. These observations support the continued need to evaluate the impacts of ocean acidification on marine fishes across a wide range of traits and life stages with replicated, independent experiments.

This work was supported by a grant to TPH from NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program.

Scroll to Top


The NOAA Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) works to prepare society to adapt to the consequences of ocean acidification and conserve marine ecosystems as acidification occurs. Learn more about the human connections and adaptation strategies from these efforts.

Adaptation approaches fostered by the OAP include:


Using models and research to understand the sensitivity of organisms and ecosystems to ocean acidification to make predictions about the future, allowing communities and industries to prepare


Using these models and predictions as tools to facilitate management strategies that will protect marine resources and communities from future changes


Developing innovative tools to help monitor ocean acidification and mitigate changing ocean chemistry locally


On the Road

Drive fuel-efficient vehicles or choose public transportation. Choose your bike or walk! Don't sit idle for more than 30 seconds. Keep your tires properly inflated.

With your Food Choices

Eat local- this helps cut down on production and transport! Reduce your meat and dairy. Compost to avoid food waste ending up in the landfill

With your Food Choices

Make energy-efficient choices for your appliances and lighting. Heat and cool efficiently! Change your air filters and program your thermostat, seal and insulate your home, and support clean energy sources

By Reducing Coastal Acidification

Reduce your use of fertilizers, Improve sewage treatment and run off, and Protect and restore coastal habitats

Previous slide
Next slide


You've taken the first step to learn more about ocean acidification - why not spread this knowledge to your community?

Every community has their unique culture, economy and ecology and what’s at stake from ocean acidification may be different depending on where you live.  As a community member, you can take a larger role in educating the public about ocean acidification. Creating awareness is the first step to taking action.  As communities gain traction, neighboring regions that share marine resources can build larger coalitions to address ocean acidification.  Here are some ideas to get started:

  1. Work with informal educators, such as aquarium outreach programs and local non-profits, to teach the public about ocean acidification. Visit our Education & Outreach page to find the newest tools!
  2. Participate in habitat restoration efforts to restore habitats that help mitigate the effects of coastal acidification
  3. Facilitate conversations with local businesses that might be affected by ocean acidification, building a plan for the future.
  4. Partner with local community efforts to mitigate the driver behind ocean acidification  – excess CO2 – such as community supported agriculture, bike & car shares and other public transportation options.
  5. Contact your regional Coastal Acidification Network (CAN) to learn how OA is affecting your region and more ideas about how you can get involved in your community
       More for Taking Community Action