Assessing the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on disease susceptibility and restoration success of the critically endangered white abalone

white abalone tanks
R/OPCOAH-6
Start/End: December, 2018 to December, 2020

The white abalone is an iconic California species, which once supported a lucrative commercial fishery. Due to high demand and resulting overfishing, in 2001 it became the first marine invertebrate designated by the federal government as an endangered species. A successful program for captive white abalone propagation has produced tens of thousands of new young white abalone destined for stocking, but it will take many decades restore breeding populations of wild white abalone, and in the meantime, changing ocean conditions such as ocean acidification and increased temperature, which is associated with disease, could challenge the recovery. Understanding how captive breeding and stocking efforts will fare in the face of ocean acidification and changing temperature regimes is crucial.

This project will carry out experiments on the combined effects of ocean acidification and a temperature-dependent disease, withering syndrome, to inform abalone white abalone recovery efforts. The project team will investigate how ocean acidification and disease might impact captive breeding efforts, as well as stocking and eventual species recovery. They will also investigate potential adaptive capacity in this species to changing ocean conditions by examining the role of different parental lineages under experimental treatments.

Results will be immediately applied to the ongoing efforts to restore white abalone. This work will also inform the recovery efforts for other depleted abalone species, such as red, green, and pinto abalone, as well as commercial red abalone aquaculture in California.

Co-principal Investigators