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The Unusual Sensitivity of Northern Sand Lance, a Keystone Forage Fish, to Acidification and Warming

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019
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1:00 pm - 2:00 pm ET


Sand lance species play a key ecological role in most temperate to polar shelf ecosystems of the northern hemisphere, where they channel planktonic productivity upwards to higher trophic piscivores such as whales, seabirds, cod, and tuna. However, they have remained unstudied with respect to their sensitivity to predicted future CO2 levels in the ocean. For the past three years (2016 - 2018), we have sampled and spawned with northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and subsequently reared their embryos under factorial CO2 x temperature conditions to hatch and early larval stages. Our results were striking, in all years, high CO2 conditioned severely reduced embryo survival up to 20-fold over controls, with strong synergistic reductions under combined high CO2 and temperature conditions. High CO2 also delayed hatching, reduced remaining endogenous energy reserves at hatch, and in combination with higher temperatures, reduced embryonic growth. Indeed, given the observed effects in size, northern sand lance might be the most CO2 sensitive fish species to date. This webinar will give a first-hand account of our work on sand lance, its results and implications for temperature to polar ecosystems, which may be among the most vulnerable to marine climate change. 

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