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Meta-analysis suggests variable, but pCO2-specific, effects of ocean acidification on crustacean biomaterials


Siegel, Kyle et al. (2022), Meta-analysis suggests variable, but pCO2-specific, effects of ocean acidification on crustacean biomaterials, Dryad, Dataset,


Crustaceans comprise an ecologically and morphologically diverse taxonomic group. They are typically considered resilient to many environmental perturbations found in marine and coastal environments, due to effective physiological regulation of ions and hemolymph pH, and a robust exoskeleton. Ocean acidification can affect the ability of marine calcifying organisms to build and maintain mineralized tissue and poses a threat for all marine calcifying taxa. Currently, there is no consensus on how ocean acidification will alter the ecologically-relevant exoskeletal properties of crustaceans. Here, we present a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of ocean acidification on the crustacean exoskeleton, assessing both exoskeletal ion content (calcium and magnesium) and functional properties (biomechanical resistance and cuticle thickness). Our results suggest that the effect of ocean acidification on crustacean exoskeletal properties varies based upon seawater pCO2 and species identity, with significant levels of heterogeneity for all analyses. Calcium and magnesium content were significantly lower in animals held at pCO2 levels of 1500-1999 μatm as compared to those under ambient pCO2. At lower pCO2 levels, however, statistically significant relationships between changes in calcium and magnesium content within the same experiment were observed: a negative relationship between calcium and magnesium content at pCO2 of 500-999 μatm and a positive relationship at 1000-1499 μatm. Exoskeleton biomechanics, such as resistance to deformation (microhardness) and shell strength, also significantly decreased under pCO2 regimes of 500-999 μatm and 1500-1999 μatm, indicating functional exoskeletal change coincident with decreases in calcification. Overall, these results suggest that the crustacean exoskeleton can be susceptible to ocean acidification at the biomechanical level, potentially predicated on changes in ion content, when exposed to high influxes of CO2. Future studies will need to accommodate the high variability of crustacean responses to ocean acidification, as well as ecologically-relevant ranges of pCO2 conditions, when designing experiments with conservation-level endpoints. --


Data was collected as either raw values from the main or supplementary text of a primary research article, or extracted from a visual figure using WebPlotDigitizer. Values were coded in Excel, saved to a CSV file, and then processed in R using the 'metafor' package.

Usage Notes

CSV files are usable with provided R code. If any issues arise, please contact Kyle R. Siegel at


National Science Foundation