Hypoxia from depth shocks shallow tropical reef animals

  • Lucey N
  • Haskett E
  • Collin R
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This is a PDF file of an article that has undergone enhancements after acceptance, such as the addition of a cover page and metadata, and formatting for readability, but it is not yet the definitive version of record. This version will undergo additional copyediting, typesetting and review before it is published in its final form, but we are providing this version to give early visibility of the article. Please note that, during the production process, errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain. Abstract Coastal deoxygenation is poorly documented in the tropics. When the Isthmus of Panama separated the Caribbean from the Pacific, sister lineages diverged and adapted to changing oxy-thermal conditions along both coasts. This provides unique insight into the ecological consequences of ocean warming and deoxygenation. We find deoxygenated, or hypoxic, waters shoal to the shallow depths of 10 meters on both sides of the Isthmus, with Caribbean waters generally warmer than those in the Pacific. We tested the performance of two Caribbean Echinometra sea urchin species and their Pacific sister species under different warming and oxygen scenarios. Performance, measured as righting ability, was reduced by 50-100 % under hypoxia compared to normoxia in one species from each coast. Only one Caribbean species performed well under hypoxia and did so at ambient temperatures (≤ 29 °C) but not under warming. This tolerant species, E. viridis, appears to be specialized for living on protected Caribbean reefs, unlike its two sister species that occur on well-oxygenated reefs. Our results emphasize the danger of shoaling hypoxia compressing well-oxygenated habitat from beneath and the importance of evolved hypoxia tolerance. This highlights the underappreciated risk that deoxygenation poses for shallow tropical ecosystems.




Lucey, N. M., Haskett, E., & Collin, R. (2021). Hypoxia from depth shocks shallow tropical reef animals. Climate Change Ecology, 2, 100010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecochg.2021.100010

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