Indexing the Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity of Marine Shellfish to Combined Stressors of Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (2016-18)

Francis Chan
Department of Integrative Biology
Oregon State University
3029 Cordley Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-737-9131

Co-PIs: Eli Meyer, OSU; Steve Rumrill, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Kristin Milligan, OSU

Along the US West Coast, coastal upwelling is instrumental in supporting some of the ocean’s most productive ecosystems. Upwelling also brings CO2-rich but oxygen-poor waters to the coast which increase the risk of deleterious effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) on shelf and estuarine systems. Recent studies of ocean chemistry and biological impacts have led to widespread recognition by many policy-makers, resource managers, and stakeholders that ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) pose important multi-stressor challenges to the health of coastal ecosystems. These challenges are especially heightened for Oregon as our coastal systems are already subject to both periodic low oxygen events and the intrusion of waters that are corrosive to carbonate minerals for a sizeable portion of the upwelling season.

Despite rapid gains in our understanding of the rate and scope of biogeochemical changes, it has become increasingly clear that crucial gaps exist in our scientific knowledge about OAH dynamics and impacts. In particular, we have only a rudimentary understanding of how biogeochemical changes translate into biological vulnerability for most species of marine organisms, but especially for species with the highest economic and/or social values in Oregon such as Dungeness crab, salmon, razor clams, and Pacific hake.

Starting with a suite of shellfish species that are of great management and societal focus, Dr. Francis Chan of Oregon State University proposes to address questions of native shellfish vulnerability, functional responses and potential thresholds of OAH exposure, and the adaptive capacity of native shellfish to near-term changes in OAH stress. 

Dr. Chan and his research team proposes that targeted information on species of clear societal and management value can have immediate and disproportionate impacts on how OAH is communicated, the level of engagement by a broader array of stakeholders, and whether and how OAH should be prioritized relative to the multitude of management concerns faced by decision-makers.

Strategic Plan Focus Areas: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems, Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

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