Interacting effects of physical disturbance and ocean acidification stress on the California mussels, Mytilus californianus

One of the main impacts of human carbon dioxide emission is the decline of oceanic pH. The concomitant reduction in carbonate ion concentration has proven deleterious to range of calcareous marine species, many of which are also subject to habitat loss and disturbance due to human exploitation of the coast. Here, I examined the interaction of pH and dislodgement stress on the California mussel, Mytilus californianus. First, pH was found to be the dominant stress affecting growth; however, due to pseudoreplication, a second experimental run was conducted, which suggested that pH and disturbance act synergistically to reduce growth rates. Further analysis determined that pH and disturbance did not significantly differ between experiments, but that potential compensatory effect had been acting in the tanks: increased pCO2 in tank water may have allowed mussels to offset the metabolic demand of hypercapnia and byssogenesis. These results highlight the difficulty of simulating the intertidal environment in a controlled fashion and the necessity of continued study of compound stress effects for the management of coastal resources under climate change.

Hines A., 2013. Interacting effects of physical disturbance and ocean acidification stress on the California mussels, Mytilus californianus. BSc thesis, Stanford University, 29 pp. Thesis.


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