Ross School - Senior Projects 2011


Student: Ryan Anderson

Mentor: Paticia Lein

Domain(s): Science






Title: The Effect of Ocean Acidification on the Survivorship and Growth of Menidia beryllina and Cyprinodon variegatus


This scientific research project focused on the repercussions of ocean acidification on the development of larval fish. The experiment was conducted in partnership with Stony Brook Southampton. Ocean acidification, the lowering of seawater pH, is often considered Ňthe other CO2Ó problem, as it is a direct result of atmospheric CO2. Recently, there has been an increase in the amount of research on this problem as it effects calcifying organisms (clams, oysters, coral). Yet there exists a large hole within this body of research, which explores the impact of ocean acidification on non-calcifying organisms. My study begins to fill this void, as it examines the acidification effect on two species of extremely young fish. We were all taken aback by the drastic results that I found. These results have supported a grant proposal for Stony Brook Southampton which if granted will be redone on a larger scale for publishable results.












This study investigated the effect of ocean acidification on two species of larval fish. Three levels of CO2, which are predicted to be achieved in the atmosphere before the end of this century, were used as the treatments for the two species, Menidia beryllina and Cyprinodon variegatus. CO2 addition is the most accurate way of recreating ocean acidification as higher atmospheric CO2 levels are causing ocean acidification through carbonate chemistry. The experiment was run for 21 days with mid and end time point measurements taken for survival rate, length, and weight. It was observed that at the highest CO2 treatment, 2000ppm, the survival rate of M. beryllina decreased nearly 100%. A decrease in average length was also observed at elevated CO2 levels. Across all treatments and parameters no changes were observed in the C. variegatus. Although it is not known what the mechanism is for the observed changes in M. beryllina, there are strong hypotheses for the reason why these two fish reacted so differently. Very little research has been done on fish and ocean acidification.

            This study was conducted at Stony Brook Southampton in Chris GoblerŐs laboratory. The experiment was conducted over the summer of 2010. Although it only ran for 21 days it took the entire summer to run the experiment. There was a large amount of prep work before the experiment could be started. I wrote the paper in the fall, mainly over Thanksgiving break. It went through numerous edits with Patty Lein and Hugh McGuinness. I also made a poster which is shown above which highlighted the main points of the paper.

            My presentation started with a simplified explanation of the project. Through the whole process I tried to make it understandable to the non-scientist. In the presentation I described my relationship with the other lab members along with other projects going on in the lab that I helped with. I then detailed the steps of the experiment process including getting the eggs, setting up the vessels, feeding the fish, time points and data collection, and analysis of data. One of my final slides was a slide of the main result of the experiment. It is figure 2 on the above poster. This was the one point I wanted to get across to people, the main result of my project.


Works Cited

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Fishbase, Page, L.M; Burr, B.M. (n.d.). Cyprinodon variegatus variegatus, Sheepshead minnow : aquarium, bait. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from Fish Base:

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Outside Consultant


Chris Gobler, Associate Professor - Stony Brook Southampton. I worked in his laboratory to conduct the experiment.