Effort launched to develop acidification thresholds for echinoderms

Posted May 5, 2018

SCCWRP and its partners have launched an effort to develop expert consensus on biologically relevant thresholds at which sea stars, urchins and other echinoderms can be expected to experience adverse impacts from ocean acidification.

The goal of the project is to investigate how to use organisms that are sensitive to corrosive seawater conditions as an early-warning indicator of acidification’s biological impacts on West Coast marine communities. SCCWRP and its partners already have developed recommended acidification thresholds for pteropods, or sea snails; a manuscript summarizing this work is nearing completion.

Both pteropods and echinoderms depend on minerals in seawater to form their protective outer shells. Because acidification can trigger shell dissolution and other adverse impacts, these organisms are well-suited to serve as sentinel indicators of the intensity and pace with which acidification is impacting coastal marine ecosystems.

In late fall, SCCWRP will convene and host an advisory panel of global experts on echinoderms that will be tasked with developing consensus around biologically relevant acidification thresholds for echinoderms. A similar panel of pteropod experts was convened in September 2017.

SCCWRP will update the California Ocean Protection Council’s Science Advisory Team on the status of this acidification threshold development work during an August 23 webinar.

More news related to: Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia