This project will focus on how copper rockfish offspring respond to ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) based on the environmental history experienced by their parents. This mechanism has not yet been explored in long-lived, late to mature species, and may be especially important for rockfish and other groundfish in the California Current. The project will investigate the possibility of transgenerational plasticity (TGP), which occurs when the environment experienced by a parent affects the development and traits of the offspring. This is an understudied but potentially rapid means by which species could adaptively respond to climate change within a single generation.
The proposed lab experiments will examine the possibility of maternal effects and TGP in response to low pH and hypoxia. Complementary field studies will monitor commonly encountered rockfish species’ reproductive status during natural OAH exposure (prior to and during upwelling), directly linking natural changes in OAH with species response data. Both field and lab studies will measure impacts of maternal traits on offspring vulnerability to OAH. Results will be incorporated into a stock assessment model to project how climate change will affect future fishery yields. It is anticipated that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council will benefit from a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of climate change on reproductive output, productivity, and future potential yield of ecologically and commercially important fish species.