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Oysters may struggle to build shells as carbon dioxide rises

Ocean acidification could hamper larvae's growth

4:16pm, June 17, 2013

As oceans soak up more carbon dioxide, oyster larvae may have trouble getting enough energy to build their shells, finds a new study of Pacific oysters (shown).

The changing chemistry of ocean waters may cause baby oysters to have trouble mustering the energy to build their shells, new research suggests.

Oysters, clams, mussels and other bivalves build calcium carbonate shells using mostly raw materials from seawater. A two-day-old oyster larva is already 90 percent calcium carbonate by body weight, ecologist George Waldbusser of Oregon State University in Corvallis and colleagues report May 29 in Geophysical Research Letters.

During their shell-building blitz, larvae rely solely on energy derived from their eggs, the team found in a study of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) from a commercial hatchery in Oregon. By looking at the forms of carbon present in eggs versus

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