Acidification and warming affect both a calcifying predator and prey, but not their interaction

Both ocean warming and acidification have been demonstrated to affect the growth, performance and reproductive success of calcifying invertebrates. However, relatively little is known regarding how such environmental change may affect interspecific interactions. We separately treated green crabs Carcinus maenas and periwinkles Littorina littorea under conditions that mimicked either ambient conditions (control) or warming and acidification, both separately and in combination, for 5 mo. After 5 mo, the predators, prey and predator-prey interactions were screened for changes in response to environmental change. Acidification negatively affected the closer-muscle length of the crusher chela and correspondingly the claw-strength increment in C. maenas. The effects of warming and/or acidification on L. littorea were less consistent but indicated weaker shells in response to acidification. On the community level, however, we found no evidence that predator-prey interactions will change in the future. Further experiments exploring the impacts of warming and acidification on key ecological interactions are needed instead of basing predictions of ecosystem change solely on species-specific responses to environmental change.

Landes, A. & Zimmer, M., 2012. Acidification and warming affect both a calcifying predator and prey, but not their interaction. Marine Ecology Progress Series 450: 1-10. doi: 10.3354/meps09666. Article.

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