To brood or not to brood: Are marine invertebrates that protect their offspring more resilient to ocean acidification? Academic Article uri icon


  • Anthropogenic atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is being absorbed by seawater resulting in increasingly acidic oceans, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). OA is thought to have largely deleterious effects on marine invertebrates, primarily impacting early life stages and consequently, their recruitment and species' survival. Most research in this field has been limited to short-term, single-species and single-life stage studies, making it difficult to determine which taxa will be evolutionarily successful under OA conditions. We circumvent these limitations by relating the dominance and distribution of the known polychaete worm species living in a naturally acidic seawater vent system to their life history strategies. These data are coupled with breeding experiments, showing all dominant species in this natural system exhibit parental care. Our results provide evidence supporting the idea that long-term survival of marine species in acidic conditions is related to life history strategies where eggs are kept in protected maternal environments (brooders) or where larvae have no free swimming phases (direct developers). Our findings are the first to formally validate the hypothesis that species with life history strategies linked to parental care are more protected in an acidifying ocean compared to their relatives employing broadcast spawning and pelagic larval development.

altmetric score

  • 70.772

author list (cited authors)

  • Lucey, N. M., Lombardi, C., DeMarchi, L., Schulze, A., Gambi, M. C., & Calosi, P.

citation count

  • 35

publication date

  • December 2015