The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Tough adults, frail babies: an analysis of stress sensitivity across early life-history stages of widely introduced marine invertebrates

Record type: Article

All ontogenetic stages of a life cycle are exposed to environmental conditions so that population persistence depends on the performance of both adults and offspring. Most studies analysing the influence of abiotic conditions on species performance have focussed on adults, while studies covering early life-history stages remain rare. We investigated the responses of early stages of two widely introduced ascidians, Styela plicata and Microcosmus squamiger, to different abiotic conditions. Stressors mimicked conditions in the habitats where both species can be found in their distributional ranges and responses were related to the selection potential of their populations by analysing their genetic diversity. Four developmental stages (egg fertilisation, larval development, settlement, metamorphosis) were studied after exposure to high temperature (30°C), low salinities (26 and 22‰) and high copper concentrations (25, 50 and 100 µg/L). Although most stressors effectively led to failure of complete development (fertilisation through metamorphosis), fertilisation and larval development were the most sensitive stages. All the studied stressors affected the development of both species, though responses differed with stage and stressor. S. plicata was overall more resistant to copper, and some stages of M. squamiger to low salinities. No relationship was found between parental genetic composition and responses to stressors. We conclude that successful development can be prevented at several life-history stages, and therefore, it is essential to consider multiple stages when assessing species' abilities to tolerate stress. Moreover, we found that early development of these species cannot be completed under conditions prevailing where adults live. These populations must therefore recruit from elsewhere or reproduce during temporal windows of more benign conditions. Alternatively, novel strategies or behaviours that increase overall reproductive success might be responsible for ensuring population survival.

Other fetchObject.action_uri=info_doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0046672&representation=PDF - Version of Record
Available under License Other.
Download (535kB)


Pineda, M. Carmen, McQuaid, Christopher D., Turon, Xavier, López-Legentil, Susanna, Ordóñez, Víctor and Rius, Marc (2012) Tough adults, frail babies: an analysis of stress sensitivity across early life-history stages of widely introduced marine invertebrates PLoS ONE, 7, (10), e46672. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046672).

More information

Published date: 12 October 2012
Organisations: Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems


Local EPrints ID: 354668
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 2c6debd0-8905-4ba5-a793-aa9c6280f867

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 17 Jul 2013 10:30
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 03:54

Export record



Author: M. Carmen Pineda
Author: Christopher D. McQuaid
Author: Xavier Turon
Author: Susanna López-Legentil
Author: Víctor Ordóñez
Author: Marc Rius

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.