Sea urchins are important bioengineers of the marine world where they aggregate and modify their environment to form unique “barren” communities.
In Sydney Harbour, urchins are some of the most conspicuous animals in intertidal and subtidal rocky shores. They are also calcifying organisms – a large proportion of their bodies are made up of a distinct form of calcium carbonate.
Ocean warming and acidification are known to have negative effects on marine calcifiers. Here at SIMS, sea urchins are currently being acclimatised to future conditions of ocean warming and ocean acidification. Our project will test for the effects of these conditions on their health, reproduction and survival, in both larval and adult stages.
By collecting information on their reproductive capability, metabolic processes and morphology, we hope to better predict the capacity for these animals to adapt to a changing ocean.
Research Project – University of Sydney (Januar Harianto & Roberta Johnson)