Assessing the vulnerability of marine invertebrates to ocean acidification (OA) requires an understanding of critical thresholds at which developmental, physiological, and behavioral traits are affected. To identify relevant thresholds for echinoderms, we undertook a three-step data synthesis, focused on California Current Ecosystem (CCE) species. First, literature characterizing echinoderm responses to OA was compiled, creating a dataset comprised of >12,000 datapoints from 41 studies. Analysis of this data set demonstrated responses related to physiology, behavior, growth and development, and increased mortality in the larval and adult stages to low pH exposure. Second, statistical analyses were conducted on selected pathways to identify OA thresholds specific to duration, taxa, and depth-related life stage. Exposure to reduced pH led to impaired responses across a range of physiology, behavior, growth and development, and mortality endpoints for both larval and adult stages. Third, through discussions and synthesis, the expert panel identified a set of eight duration-dependent, life stage, and habitat-dependent pH thresholds and assigned each a confidence score based on quantity and agreement of evidence. The thresholds for these effects ranged within pH from 7.20 to 7.74 and duration from 7 to 30 days, all of which were characterized with either medium or low confidence. These thresholds yielded a risk range from early warning to lethal impacts, providing the foundation for consistent interpretation of OA monitoring data or numerical ocean model simulations to support climate change marine vulnerability assessments and evaluation of ocean management strategies. As a demonstration, two echinoderm thresholds were applied to simulations of a CCE numerical model to visualize the effects of current state of pH conditions on potential habitat.



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Frontiers in Marine Science



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School of Biological and Marine Sciences