Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Biology

Committee Chair Name

Joe Tyburczy

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Eric Bjorkstedt

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Frank Shaughnessy

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

Frederick Zechman

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Worsening ocean acidification (OA), resulting from ongoing absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by the oceans, threatens marine life globally. Calcifying organisms, especially their early life stages, are particularly vulnerable; this includes the economically important Pacific oyster, Magallana (Crassostrea) gigas. Uptake of dissolved CO2 through photosynthesis by seagrasses, like eelgrass (Zostera marina), may benefit calcifying organisms by increasing pH and carbonate availability. I conducted laboratory and field experiments to quantify carbonate chemistry modification by eelgrass and potential mitigation of OA impacts on growth in juvenile Pacific oysters. In the laboratory experiment, daytime net photosynthesis by eelgrass increased seawater pH, while nighttime net respiration reduced pH though to a lesser extent; both effects grew stronger as the pH of incoming seawater decreased. This is consistent with the expectation that eelgrass will benefit from increased aqueous CO2 levels and suggests that the importance of carbonate chemistry modification by eelgrass and its role as a refugium may increase as OA proceeds. Under the conditions tested, however, eelgrass effects on pH were modest and did not affect oyster growth in the lab or field. In the lab, oysters settled on shell flour grew faster than those on shell chunks, but unlike those on chunks, the growth rate of oysters on flour decreased significantly in low pH treatments. One hypothesis consistent with these results is that the boundary layer around shell chunks may have slowed oyster growth by limiting food availability but that it also reduced sensitivity to low pH via enhanced carbonate saturation.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location


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