Developing tools for monitoring the impact of climate change on captive abalone reproduction and digestion

Project Number
Project Date Range
Funding Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Focus Area(s)
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Understanding of basic abalone physiology and biology is necessary as climate change impacts aquaculture. High temperatures experienced on red abalone farms cause failed reproduction attempts. As marine heat waves become more common, this threat grows. For endangered white abalone, the largest barrier to restoration is reliable reproduction through aquaculture. There is compelling evidence that lipids, or “fats,” that mother abalone supply their eggs with may be a key to producing offspring, especially in the face of climate change. This project will examine the links between dietary lipids and reproduction, and develop sustainable, low-cost diets in partnership with an abalone farm.

The researchers will examine reproductive and digestive physiology in a commercially important red abalone and endangered white abalone being bred for recovery efforts. Their goals are to:

  1. Determine the impact of maternal diet on reproductive success in red abalone

  2. Use diet manipulation as a mitigation tool for the impact of high temperature on digestive and reproductive physiology

  3. Develop methods of measuring reproductive hormones in aquaculture facility water to understand natural hormone cycles and predict reproductive success

A deeper understanding of the biological and physicochemical factors that impact abalone reproduction is critical to sustain and increase aquaculture production in a changing world. This work combines the study of climate change impacts, reproductive and digestive physiology, and tool development for increasing resilience in aquaculture. The team is also performing outreach to bring their results to aquaculture practitioners, endangered species managers, and students.

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