Ocean acidification and increased temperature have both positive and negative effects on early ontogenetic traits of a rocky shore keystone predator species

The combined effect of ocean acidification and warming is expected to have significant effects on several traits of marine organisms. The gastropod Concholepas concholepas is a rocky shore keystone predator characteristic of the south-eastern Pacific coast of South America and an important natural resource exploited by small-scale artisanal fishermen along the coast of Chile and Peru. In this study, we used small juveniles of C. concholepas collected from the rocky intertidal habitats of southern Chile (39°S) to evaluate under laboratory conditions the potential consequences of projected near-future levels of ocean acidification and warming for important early ontogenetic traits. The individuals were exposed long-term (5.8 months) to contrasting pCO2 (ca. 500 and 1400 μatm) and temperature (15 and 19°C) levels. After this period we compared body growth traits, dislodgement resistance, predator-escape response, self-righting and metabolic rates. With respect to these traits there was no evidence of a synergistic interaction between pCO2 and temperature. Shell growth was negatively affected by high pCO2 levels only at 15°C. High pCO2 levels also had a negative effect on the predator-escape response. Conversely, dislodgement resistance and self-righting were positively affected by high pCO2 levels at both temperatures. High tenacity and fast self-righting would reduce predation risk in nature and might compensate for the negative effects of high pCO2 levels on other important defensive traits such as shell size and escape behaviour. We conclude that climate change might produce in C. concholepas positive and negative effects in physiology and behaviour. In fact, some of the behavioural responses might be a consequence of physiological effects, such as changes in chemosensory capacity (e.g. predator-escape response) or secretion of adhesive mucous (e.g. dislodgement resistance). Moreover, we conclude that positive behavioural responses may assist in the adaptation to negative physiological impacts, and that this may also be the case for other benthic organisms.

Manríquez P. H., Jara M. E., Seguel M. E., Torres R., Alarcon E. & Lee M. R., 2016. Ocean acidification and increased temperature have both positive and negative effects on early ontogenetic traits of a rocky shore keystone predator species. PLoS ONE 11(3):e0151920. Article.

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