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Reduced Oxygen Impairs Photobehavior in Marine Invertebrate Larvae.

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AbstractOrganisms in coastal waters experience naturally high oxygen variability and steep oxygen gradients with depth, in addition to ocean deoxygenation. They often undergo diel vertical migration involving a change in irradiance that initiates a visual behavior. Retinal function has been shown to be highly sensitive to oxygen loss; here we assess whether visual behavior (photobehavior) in paralarvae of the squid Doryteuthis opalescens and the octopus Octopus bimaculatus is affected by low oxygen conditions, using a novel behavioral paradigm. Larvae showed an irradiance-dependent, descending photobehavior after extinction of the light stimulus, measured through the change in vertical position of larvae in the chamber. The magnitude of photobehavior was decreased as oxygen was reduced, and the response was entirely gone at <6.4 kPa partial pressure of oxygen (<74.7 μmol kg-1 at 15.3 °C) in D. opalescens paralarvae. Oxygen also affected photobehavior in O. bimaculatus paralarvae. The mean vertical velocity of paralarvae was unaffected by exposure to reduced oxygen, indicating that oxygen deficits selectively affect vision prior to locomotion. These findings suggest that variable and declining oxygen conditions in coastal upwelling areas and elsewhere will impair photobehavior and likely affect the distribution, migration behavior, and survival of highly visual marine species.

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