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Individual and population-level responses to ocean acidification

Lookup NU author(s): Helen Graham, Professor Pip MooreORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Ocean acidification is predicted to have detrimental effects on many marine organisms and ecological processes. Despite growing evidence for direct impacts on specific species, few studies have simultaneously considered the effects of ocean acidification on individuals (e.g. consequences for energy budgets and resource partitioning) and population level demographic processes. Here we show that ocean acidification increases energetic demands on gastropods resulting in altered energy allocation, i.e. reduced shell size but increased body mass. When scaled up to the population level, long-term exposure to ocean acidification altered population demography, with evidence of a reduction in the proportion of females in the population and genetic signatures of increased variance in reproductive success among individuals. Such increased variance enhances levels of short-term genetic drift which is predicted to inhibit adaptation. Our study indicates that even against a background of high gene flow, ocean acidification is driving individual-and population-level changes that will impact eco-evolutionary trajectories.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harvey BP, McKeown NJ, Rastrick SPS, Bertolini C, Foggo A, Graham H, Hall-Spencer JM, Milazzo M, Shaw PW, Small DP, Moore PJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2016

Volume: 6

Online publication date: 29/01/2016

Acceptance date: 23/12/2015

Date deposited: 11/04/2016

ISSN (print): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/srep20194


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Funder referenceFunder name
Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences PhD studentship
UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (Defra) Added Value Award
UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (NERC) Added Value Award
265103EU 'Mediterranean Sea acidification under a changing climate' project (MedSeA)
NE/H02543X/1UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (DECC) Added Value Award
PCIG10-GA-2011-303685Marie Curie Career Integration Grant