Multiple stressor effects of near-future elevated seawater temperature and decreased pH on righting and escape behaviors of two common Antarctic gastropods

Warming seawater temperatures and ocean acidification on the coastal western Antarctic Peninsula pose unique challenges to stenothermal marine invertebrates. The present study examines prospective sub-lethal effects of elevated temperature, pCO2, and resultant decrease in seawater pH, on righting behavior and maximal escape speeds for two common gastropods, the limpet Nacella concinna (Strebel) and mesogastropod snail Margarella antarctica (Lamy). Replicate individuals held in individual containers were exposed to four combinations of seawater temperature (1.5 °C — current average, 3.5 °C — projected average by 2100) and pH (pH 8.0 — current average, pH 7.8 — projected average by 2100 as a result of elevated pCO2 levels) for a period of 6 weeks. Following this chronic exposure, righting behavior, determined for the limpets as proportion to right over 24 h and for snails as time to right, as well as maximum escape speed following contact with a sea star predator were measured. We found no significant differences in proportions of limpets displaying the capacity to right among the four temperature–pH treatments. However, there was a significant temperature–pH interaction effect for mean righting times in snails, indicating that the effect of pH on the time to right is dependent on temperature. We found no significant effects of temperature or pH on mean maximal escape speed in limpets. Additionally, we observed a significant temperature–pH interaction effect for mean maximal escape speed in snails. These interactive effects make it difficult to make clear predictions about how these environmental factors may impact behavioral responses.

Schram J. B., Schoenrock K. M., McClintock J. B., Amsler C. D.  & Angus R. A., 2014. Multiple stressor effects of near-future elevated seawater temperature and decreased pH on righting and escape behaviors of two common Antarctic gastropods. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 457:90-96. Article (subcription required).


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