Project Description: Multiple Stressor Effects of Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia on Behavior, Physiology, and Gene Expression of Temperate Reef Fishes

Summary

The objectives of this study are to examine the effects of each stressor alone and in combination on behavior, physiological capacity, and gene expression in temperate reef fishes.  Because mortality in early life stages has important carryover effects on recruitment processes, understanding the synergistic effects of these stressors is critical for predicting future climate change impacts on global fish populations. Rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) comprise a vital economic and ecological component of west coast demersal ecosystems.  Recruiting juveniles settle in nearshore habitats where they will be highly susceptible to ocean acidification and hypoxia events.  Our research will compare the sensitivities of early juvenile stages of different species with contrasting life histories and the potential for adaptation to the variable and dynamic pH and DO conditions of the California Current.  Response variables will include: (1) behavioral metrics such as olfactory sensitivity and tests of brain function; (2) metabolic metrics such as critical swimming speed and aerobic scope; and (3) the underlying cellular mechanisms to these responses, using next generation transcriptome sequencing to look at changes in gene expression and enzymatic assays to examine acid-base regulation.

Student Involvement

This project is providing educational opportunities and direct research experience for graduate and undergraduate students at the 4 partner institutions. Students are actively engaged in all components of the lab experiments, field sampling, and genomic analyses. P.I.’s Logan, Sogard and Hamilton and their graduate students are mentoring several UROC students. Students gain valuable research experience in fish physiology, genomics, and nearshore oceanography, preparing them for entry into competitive graduate programs. This funding has also supported a group capstone undergraduate laboratory course taught in Spring 2015 and 2016 at CSUMB. The course teaches students how next generation sequencing techniques can be used to solve environmental problems. Students in this course (~14 undergraduates) have learned how to prepare samples for RNAseq and go through the pipeline for how to construct a de novo transcriptome and analyze gene expression data. Students present their findings at the capstone festival each Spring.

Broader Significance

In addition to student involvement described above, this project will also expand the experimental capabilities of HSU's marine laboratory for educational and interdisciplinary collaborative research efforts, with P.I.s Bjorkstedt, Abell, and Mulligan. Two of the P.I.s (Hamilton and Logan) are new faculty members developing new research programs, and this project will provide valuable support in those efforts. The results of the field studies and lab experiments will be rapidly disseminated to fisheries management agencies, oceanographic observing programs, and the science community to provide information on climate change impacts for economically valuable groundfish.

IfAME Principal Investigator

Dr. Cheryl Logan

Financial Support

National Science Foundation (Ocean Acidification program)

Field Support

N/A

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