Shelled pteropods in peril: Assessing vulnerability in a high CO2 ocean
The impact of anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems is a vital concern facing marine scientists and managers of ocean resources. Euthecosomatous pteropods (holoplanktonic gastropods) represent an excellent sentinel for indicating exposure to anthropogenic OA because of the sensitivity of their aragonite shells to the OA conditions less favorable for calcification. However, an integration of observations, experiments and modelling efforts is needed to make accurate predictions of how these organisms will respond to future changes to their environment. Our understanding of the underlying organismal biology and life history is far from complete and must be improved if we are to comprehend fully the responses of these organisms to the multitude of stressors in their environment beyond OA. This review considers the present state of research and understanding of euthecosomatous pteropod biology and ecology of these organisms and considers promising new laboratory methods, advances in instrumentation (such as molecular, trace elements, stable isotopes, palaeobiology alongside autonomous sampling platforms, CT scanning and high-quality video recording) and novel field-based approaches (i.e. studies of upwelling and CO2 vent regions) that may allow us to improve our predictive capacity of their vulnerability and/or resilience. In addition to playing a critical ecological and biogeochemical role, pteropods can offer a significant value as an early-indicator of anthropogenic OA. This role as a sentinel species should be developed further to consolidate their potential use within marine environmental management policy making.