Effects of ocean acidification on respiration and burrowing behaviour of infaunal marine invertebrates in the Bay of Fundy.

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University of New Brunswick


Coastal acidification alters the physiology and behaviour of invertebrates. pH-driven behavioural changes may be mediated by GABAA receptors. I examined whether water column pH affects respiration rate, and whether GABAA receptors are the mechanism behind burrowing behaviour changes at reduced pH. Respiration of clams (Mya arenaria), snails (Tritia obsoleta), and crustaceans (Corophium volutator) was measured after 6 weeks in ambient-pH or reduced pH. In a second experiment, effects of sediment pH and a GABAA neuroinhibitor on burrowing of T. obsoleta and C. volutator were tested. Respiration rates were higher in reduced pH water but did not differ significantly between treatments. Burrowing by C. volutator decreased in reduced pH, but not when treated with the neuroinhibitor, and T. obsoleta showed no difference among treatments. Results suggest that reduced water column pH stresses animals and GABAA is the mechanism behind burrowing behaviour for C. volutator but maybe not T. obsoleta.