Effects of increased sea water concentrations of CO2 on growth of the bivalve Mytilus edulis L

Chemosphere. 2006 Jan;62(4):681-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2005.04.111. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


It has been proposed that emission of anthropogenic carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will lead to increased concentrations of CO(2) in sea water corresponding to a decrease of pH of several tenths of pH units. An experiment was performed to test the effects of increased sea water concentrations of CO(2) on shell growth of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The experiment was performed in aquaria continuously flushed with sea water spiked with CO(2) to provide five different levels of pH between 6.7 and control sea water with a pH of 8.1. The shell length of the mussels was measured at the start and end of the 44 days experimental period. No mortality was observed during the first 23 days of the experiment. The growth increment in mm was much larger for small mussels than for large mussels, but relative growth profile as function of pH was more similar in the two size groups; observed differences may be random variation between samples. The experiments showed that CO(2) induced reduction of pH affects the growth of M. edulis negatively. There was a strong and statistically significant decrease in growth at the lowest pH values, with virtually no growth at pH = 6.7 and reduced growth at pH = 7.1. The effect seems to set in between pH 7.4 and 7.1; at mean pH levels 7.4 and 7.6 the growth increments were not significantly different from growth at normal pH 8.1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Carbon Dioxide / toxicity
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Mortality
  • Mytilus edulis / drug effects*
  • Mytilus edulis / growth & development
  • Seawater


  • Carbon Dioxide