Bentho-pelagic life cycles are the dominant reproductive strategy in marine invertebrates, providing great dispersal ability, access to different resources, and the opportunity to settle in suitable habitats upon the trigger of environmental cues at key developmental moments. However, free-dispersing larvae can be highly sensitive to environmental changes. Among these, the magnitude and the occurrence of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in oceanic habitats is predicted to exacerbate over the next decades, particularly in coastal areas, reaching levels beyond those historically experienced by most marine organisms. Here, we aimed to determine the sensitivity to elevated pCO2 of successive life stages of a marine invertebrate species with a bentho-pelagic life cycle, exposed continuously during its early ontogeny, whilst providing in-depth insights on their metabolic responses. We selected, as an ideal study species, the American lobster Homarus americanus, and investigated life history traits, whole-organism physiology, and metabolomic fingerprints from larval stage I to juvenile stage V exposed to different pCO2 levels. Current and future ocean acidification scenarios were tested, as well as extreme high pCO2/low pH conditions that are predicted to occur in coastal benthic habitats and with leakages from underwater carbon capture storage (CCS) sites. Larvae demonstrated greater tolerance to elevated pCO2, showing no significant changes in survival, developmental time, morphology, and mineralisation, although they underwent intense metabolomic reprogramming. Conversely, juveniles showed the inverse pattern, with a reduction in survival and an increase in development time at the highest pCO2 levels tested, with no indication of metabolomic reprogramming. Metabolomic sensitivity to elevated pCO2 increased until metamorphosis (between larval and juvenile stages) and decreased afterward, suggesting this transition as a metabolic keystone for marine invertebrates with complex life cycles.
In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Gattuso et al, 2021) was used to compute a complete and consistent set of carbonate system variables, as described by Nisumaa et al. (2010). In this dataset the original values were archived in addition with the recalculated parameters (see related PI). The date of carbonate chemistry calculation by seacarb is 2022-03-22.