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Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2016;8:357-78. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-122414-033953. Epub 2015 Sep 10.

Multiple Stressors in a Changing World: The Need for an Improved Perspective on Physiological Responses to the Dynamic Marine Environment.

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Romberg Tiburon Center and Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, Tiburon, California 94920; email:


Abiotic conditions (e.g., temperature and pH) fluctuate through time in most marine environments, sometimes passing intensity thresholds that induce physiological stress. Depending on habitat and season, the peak intensity of different abiotic stressors can occur in or out of phase with one another. Thus, some organisms are exposed to multiple stressors simultaneously, whereas others experience them sequentially. Understanding these physicochemical dynamics is critical because how organisms respond to multiple stressors depends on the magnitude and relative timing of each stressor. Here, we first discuss broad patterns of covariation between stressors in marine systems at various temporal scales. We then describe how these dynamics will influence physiological responses to multi-stressor exposures. Finally, we summarize how multi-stressor effects are currently assessed. We find that multi-stressor experiments have rarely incorporated naturalistic physicochemical variation into their designs, and emphasize the importance of doing so to make ecologically relevant inferences about physiological responses to global change.


climate change; environmental fluctuation; intertidal; multi-stressor; ocean acidification; temperature

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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