Predicting the effects of ocean acidification on predator-prey interactions: a conceptual framework based on coastal molluscs

The influence of environmental change on species interactions will affect population dynamics and community structure in the future, but our current understanding of the outcomes of species interactions in a high-CO2 world is limited. Here, we draw upon emerging experimental research examining the effects of ocean acidification on coastal molluscs to provide hypotheses of the potential impacts of high-CO2 on predator-prey interactions. Coastal molluscs, such as oysters, mussels, and snails, allocate energy among defenses, growth, and reproduction. Ocean acidification increases the energetic costs of physiological processes such as acid-base regulation and calcification. Impacted molluscs can display complex and divergent patterns of energy allocation to defenses and growth that may influence predator-prey interactions; these include changes in shell properties, body size, tissue mass, immune function, or reproductive output. Ocean acidification has also been shown to induce complex changes in chemoreception, behavior, and inducible defenses, including altered cue detection and predator avoidance behaviors. Each of these responses may ultimately alter the susceptibility of coastal molluscs to predation through effects on predator handling time, satiation, and search time. While many of these effects may manifest as increases in per capita predation rates on coastal molluscs, the ultimate outcome of predator-prey interactions will also depend on how ocean acidification affects the specified predators, which also exhibit complex responses to ocean acidification. Changes in predator-prey interactions could have profound and unexplored consequences for the population dynamics of coastal molluscs in a high-CO2 ocean.

Kroeker K. J., Sanford E., Jellison B. N. & Gaylord B., 2014. Predicting the effects of ocean acidification on predator-prey interactions: a conceptual framework based on coastal molluscs. The Biological Bulletin 226 (3): 211-222. Article.


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