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.
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- Broadcast spawning
- Galeolaria caespitosa
- Phenotypic variation