Effects of short-term and continuous exposure to reduced salinities on the biochemical composition of larval lobster, Homarus gammarus

gabriela.torres [ at ] awi.de


In coastal areas with estuarine influence, exposure to hypo-osmotic conditions may affect larval survival, development and growth. Most knowledge about effects of reduced salinity on coastal organisms is based on keeping individuals under constant conditions in the laboratory. By contrast, little is known about the effects of more realistic situations where organisms are exposed to low salinity over short time scales. Such environmental short-term fluctuations are expected to increase due to climate change. Here, we experimentally evaluated the sublethal effects of both short-term and continuous exposure to moderately reduced salinities (salinity 20 and 25; compared to seawater, salinity 32) in larvae of European lobster Homarus gammarus. Total body dry mass and biochemical composition (measured as: protein and lipid contents) were measured as response variables in Mysis stages I to III. Short-term effects of low salinity were quantified in a group of larvae kept in seawater from hatching until the time of transfer to the test salinities. After ca. 40 % of each moult cycle in seawater (determined in preliminary experiments for Mysis I, II and III), larvae were assigned to a seawater control or reduced salinities lasting for 16 h (i.e. until ca. 50 % of the time spent within the moulting cycle). Effects of continuous exposure to low salinity were quantified when larvae were exposed to the different salinities from hatching, until they reached ca. 50 % of the successive moulting stage. Surprisingly, in the Mysis II and III stages, short-term exposure to low salinity had much stronger effects on accumulation of reserves than the continuous exposure. Such effects were manifested mostly as limited accumulation, or even losses, in the lipid content as compared to reductions in the amount of protein accumulated. The most sensitive stage to exposure to low salinity was the Mysis III; by contrast in Mysis I such effects were relative weak (not always significant). Chronic exposure to low salinity also led to an increase in developmental time especially at the advanced stages. Our results highlight the importance of quantifying effects of environmental fluctuations at different time scales in order to better understand how organisms cope with realistic environmental change in the coastal zones. For H. gammarus, our results suggest that larvae respond adaptively to low salinity by maintaining protein levels at expenses of reductions in lipid accumulation and by extending the developmental time, but the capacity to elicit a fully compensatory response varies ontogenetically.

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DOI 10.1016/j.zool.2020.125885

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Torres, G. , Anger, K. and Giménez, L. (2021): Effects of short-term and continuous exposure to reduced salinities on the biochemical composition of larval lobster, Homarus gammarus , Zoology, 144 , p. 125885 . doi: 10.1016/j.zool.2020.125885

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