Boldness in a deep sea hermit crab to simulated tactile predator attacks is unaffected by ocean acidification

Despite rapidly growing interest in the effects of ocean acidification on marine animals, the ability of deep-sea animals to acclimate or adapt to reduced pH conditions has received little attention. Deep-sea species are generally thought to be less tolerant of environmental variation than shallow-living species because they inhabit relatively stable conditions for nearly all environmental parameters. To explore whether deep-sea hermit crabs (Pagurus tanneri) can acclimate to ocean acidification over several weeks, we compared behavioral “boldness,” measured as time taken to re-emerge from shells after a simulated predatory attack by a toy octopus, under ambient (pH ∼7.6) and expected future (pH ∼7.1) conditions. The boldness measure for crab behavioral responses did not differ between different pH treatments, suggesting that future deep-sea acidification would not influence anti-predatory behavior. However, we did not examine the effects of olfactory cues released by predators that may affect hermit crab behavior and could be influenced by changes in the ocean carbonate system driven by increasing CO2 levels.

Kim T. W. & Barry J. P., 2016. Boldness in a deep sea hermit crab to simulated tactile predator attacks is unaffected by ocean acidification. Ocean Science Journal 51:381. Article (subscription required).

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