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Karenia brevis causes high mortality and impaired swimming behavior of Florida stone crab larvae

Gravinese, Philip M., Saso, Emma, Lovko, Vincent J., Blum, Patricia, Cole, Cody, Pierce, Richard H.
Harmful algae 2019 v.84 pp. 188-194
Karenia brevis, Lithodidae, algal blooms, autumn, coasts, fish kills, fisheries, geotaxis, larvae, oxygen consumption, poisonous algae, spring, summer, survival rate, swimming, Florida
The dinoflagellate Karenia brevis causes harmful algal blooms commonly referred to as red tides that are prevalent along Florida’s gulf coast. Severe blooms often cause fish kills, turbid water, and hypoxic events all of which can negatively impact local fisheries. The stone crab, Menippe mercenaria, is a ˜$25 million per year fishery that occurs primarily along Florida’s gulf coast. On the west Florida shelf, red tides occur from fall through spring, although severe blooms can occur during the summer. During the summer, stone crabs are reproductive and release larvae that are transported offshore where K. brevis blooms originate. This study determined the effects of K. brevis exposure on the survivorship, vertical swimming behavior, and oxygen consumption of stage-1 larval stone crabs. Survivorship was determined by exposing larvae to high (> 1 × 106 cells L−1) and medium (˜1 × 105 cells L−1) K. brevis concentrations for 96-hrs and were compared to controls that had no algae present. Larval swimming behavior (i.e., geotaxis) and oxygen consumption were monitored after 6-hr exposure to K. brevis. After 96-hrs of exposure, mortality was 100% and 30% for larvae in the high and medium concentrations of K. brevis, respectively, relative to the control. Larval swimming behavior was reversed in the K. brevis treatment; however oxygen consumption rates did not differ among treatments. These results suggest that severe blooms during the summer may reduce larval supply and serve as a potential bottleneck for new individuals recruiting into the fishery in years following a K. brevis bloom.