Gobler Lab’s Study Gives Clues to Preserving Blue Crab Estuaries

Blue crabs are ecologically important and represent one of the most valuable fisheries in the United States.

A research team from the lab of Christopher Gobler, Endowed Chair of Coastal Ecology and Conservation in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University, had a study published in PLoS One that details the effects of stressors on early life stages of blue crabs, which inhabit a network of estuaries along the Atlantic coast. Their study provides evidence that larval blue crabs experience increased mortality when exposed to low oxygen and/or low pH conditions at levels routinely found in degraded estuaries.

Blue crabs spawn in estuaries at a time of year when water-quality issues such as low dissolved oxygen (hypoxia) and low pH (acidification) can be the most persistent and severe. While hypoxia is known to be a common condition within coastal zones, recent studies from across the globe have emphasized that many estuaries that are over-enriched with nitrogen and experience low oxygen simultaneously experience low pH and acidification.

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