Sperm swimming in the polychaete Galeolaria caespitosa shows substantial inter-individual variability in response to future ocean acidification

Peter Schlegel*, Jon N. Havenhand, Nicolas Obadia, Jane E. Williamson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The rapidity of ocean acidification intensifies selection pressure for resilient phenotypes, particularly during sensitive early life stages. The scope for selection is greater in species with greater within-species variation in responses to changing environments, thus enhancing the potential for adaptation. We investigated among-male variation in sperm swimming responses (percent motility and swimming speeds) of the serpulid polychaete Galeolaria caespitosa to near- (δpH -0.3) and far-future ocean acidification (δpH -0.5). Responses of sperm swimming to acidification varied significantly among males and were overall negative. Robust sperm swimming behavior under near-future ocean acidification in some males may ameliorate climate change impacts, if traits associated with robustness are heritable, and thereby enhance the potential for adaptation to far-future conditions. Reduced sperm swimming in the majority of male G. caespitosa may decrease their fertilization success in a high CO2 future ocean. Resultant changes in offspring production could affect recruitment success and population fitness downstream.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-217
Number of pages5
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2013. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Broadcast spawning
  • CO
  • Galeolaria caespitosa
  • PH
  • Phenotypic variation
  • Serpulidae

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