Coastal habitats often experience large diel to seasonal fluctuations in both pH and dissolved oxygen (DO), because ecosystem metabolism consumes oxygen while producing CO2. Hence, the two factors really represent two sides of the same coin. Decades of research have focused on hypoxia or acidification; therefore, the combined effects of these two stressors is still poorly understood. Master student Elizabeth Depasquale and co-authors tested the sensitivity to low pH and low DO in offspring of three forage fish species that are common in nearshore New England habitats: Inland silverside (Menidia beryllina), Atlantic silverside (M. menidia), and sheepshead minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus). The results show that pH and oxygen mostly have additive negative effects, but in a few cases also synergistically negative effects (Fig.1). The latter shows that multistressor experiments are important tools in assessing the impacts of multiple changes on coastal organisms.
Depasquale, E.*, Baumann, H., and Gobler, C.J. (2015) Variation in early life stage vulnerability among Northwest Atlantic estuarine forage fish to ocean acidification and low oxygen. Marine Ecology Progress Series 523: 145–156 http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps11142