Postdoc, Valentina Di Santo (Lauder Lab) examined the effect of ocean acidification and warming on mineralization of fish skeleton. Previous studies have focused on the effect of these climate-related stressors on calcification rates of the exoskeleton, or shell of marine invertebrates, as well as the ear stone of fishes. However, Di Santo's study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to look at the consequences of these two important stressors on the mineralization of fish skeleton.
Di Santo exposed embryonic little skates (Leucoraja erinacea) to different conditions of CO2 and temperature to simulate current and future ocean conditions. Using µCT scanning, she found that mineralization increased with ocean acidification in the cartilage of crura (modified pelvic fins) and jaws, while temperature significantly decreased mineralization of the pectoral fins. Fishes are expected to become heavier with ocean acidification and exhibit reduced locomotor efficiency at higher temperatures. Moreover, ocean acidification increases mineralization in fish skeleton, while it decreases mineralization in the shell of invertebrates. Di Santo's study is the first of its kind to show that changes in temperature and pH of the oceans have complex effects on fish skeletal morphology. The Harvard Gazette