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Work Package 4 - Physiological Fitness

The effects of ocean acidification and warming to the physiology of Mytilus edulis and Cancer pagurus

  • Dr. Shelagh Malham
  • Dr. Nia Whiteley
  • Dr. Ian McCarthy
  • Ms. Ruth Nicholls
  • Ms. Clara Mackenzie

Increases in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are resulting in decreased oceanic pH, a process referred to as ocean acidification (OA).  Under the IPCC IS92a CO2 emission scenario, ocean pH is expected to decrease by ~0.4 units by the year 2100.  OA also results in a lowered carbonate saturation state (Ω) and consequently, a reduced availability of carbonate for marine calcifying organisms (Doney, 2006). Simultaneously, increases in sea surface temperature are occurring with existing predictions stating that the current average sea surface temperature of 19.7°C will rise to 22.7°C by the end of the century (Houghton et al., 2001).

SUSFISH is investigating the impacts of climate change (OA and warming)  on the physiology of the edible crab Cancer pagurus  and blue mussel Mytilus edulis.  Acid-base physiology, enzyme activity, protein synthesis, biomineralization, energetics and disease status are being examined in order to investigate the mechanisms underlying organism performance and survival.   An ocean acidification system at School of Oceans Sciences, Bangor University (Fig. 1) has been used for experiments looking at the combined effects of pH and temperature to shellfish.  Additionally, experiments to investigate the impacts of ocean warming to the development and behaviour of Cerastoderma edule larvae are being developed.


Figure 1.  OA System at School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University





Doney, S.C. (2006) The dangers of ocean acidification.  Sci. Am. 294, 58 – 65.

Houghton, J.T et. al. (2001) Climate Change 2001:  The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC.  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.  83 pp.