While global warming and climate change have left experts worried about marine species, one particular animal seems to have already adapted to the alterations. A recently published study found that the eight-armed beings showed a high rate of metabolic growth when placed in changed situation therefore concluding that that had already adapted to environmental changes. The study which was conducted by researchers from Walla Walla University in collaboration with La Sierra University was published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology Journal.
For the purpose of the study titled ‘Impact of Short- and Long-Term Exposure to Elevated Seawater Pco2 on Metabolic Rate and Hypoxia Tolerance in Octopus rubescens’, researchers chose to observe octopus rubescens, which is a small and easily maintained species of octopuses. The team of four scientists then studied how ocean acidification, which implies increasing CO2 in water, affected the metabolism of species.
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The team then exposed the species to increased carbon dioxide-created acidity for a period of five weeks. Throughout this duration, researchers measured their routine metabolic rate (RMR) with no prior acclimation to the acidic water, and then again at week one and after five weeks. In addendum, they also measured the octopuses oxygen pressure for five weeks.
Octopus rubescens; Image credits: University of California
In the aftermath, they found that octopuses were highly adaptable as compared to other species. The creatures experienced high levels of changes in their metabolism within the first 24 hours of exposure to increased acidity in their surroundings. This observation shows a stark contrast to cephalopods, which showed a decrease in metabolic change.
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However, researchers observed that their metabolic rate returned to normal after one week and continues for the following five weeks. Their ability to function in low oxygen also decreased later. But the latest finding, researchers have concluded that octopuses amongst other species were capable of acclimatising hypercapnic environments, even as high as 1,500 μatm. They are now planning to conduct further research to concrete their findings.
“Our data show that the RMR of O. rubescens is impacted by elevated CO2. The pattern we observe is different from those reported for epipelagic squid and cuttlefish. However, the marked increase during short-term exposure followed by a return to control RMR demonstrates that O. rubescens is able to acclimate to hypercapnic environments, even as high as 1,500 μatm,” an extract from the study read.
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