Sea urchin sperm has a shorter lifespan at high temperatures, research from CSIRO has found. The study suggests sea urchin populations may suffer under climate change.
The researchers exposed sea urchin sperm to normal (20°C), near-future (24°C), and future (26°C) temperatures predicted by climate change models. They found a significant reduction in sperm longevity.
Mating in sea urchins can take several hours as sperm and eggs are released to mix in the water. Longevity is therefore an important factor in fertilisation.