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Seasonality and Life History Complexity Determine Vulnerability of Dungeness Crab to Multiple Climate Stressors

Citation: Berger, H. M., Siedlecki, S. A., Matassa, C. M., Alin, S. R., Kaplan, I. C., Hodgson, E. E., et al. (2021). Seasonality and life history complexity determine vulnerability of Dungeness crab to multiple climate stressors. AGU Advances, 2, e2021AV000456. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021AV000456

The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere by human activities is altering ocean conditions including pH, oxygen, and temperature. One way to understand how these changing conditions will affect ecologically, economically, and culturally important marine species is to scale individual responses from laboratory experiments to population-level impacts. In this study, we assessed the vulnerability of Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries in the NW USA, to stressful conditions based on the predicted habitat exposure and response of each life stage (eggs, larvae, juveniles, and adults). The degree of vulnerability was determined by the seasonality of the ocean conditions in combination with the crab’s complex life cycle. This approach revealed that Dungeness crab life stages and populations will be more vulnerable to low pH, low oxygen, and high temperature in the future (year 2100) under an aggressive CO2 emissions scenario. Based on these results, we recommend that fishery managers incorporate changing conditions into their decision-making to protect vulnerable life stages in areas prone to stressful conditions (e.g., adult crabs in hypoxic areas). Our approach can be adapted for many other economically and ecologically important marine species in order to inform conservation and management strategies.

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ADAPTING TO OCEAN ACIDIFICATION

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:

FORECASTING

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

MANAGEMENT

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

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

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

REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

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

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TAKE ACTION WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

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