Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and temperature on locomotion and the repeatability of lateralization in a keystone marine mollusc

Recent work has shown that the behaviour of marine organisms can be affected by elevated pCO2, although little is known about the effect of multiple stressors. We therefore investigated the effect of elevated pCO2 and temperature on locomotion and behaviour during prey searching in the marine gastropod Concholepas concholepas, a predator characteristic of the southeastern Pacific coast. Movement duration, decision time, route finding and lateralization were measured using a T-maze tank with a prey positioned behind a barrier. Four treatments, representing present day and near-future scenarios of ocean acidification and warming were used in rearing the individuals for 6 months. Regardless of the treatment, no significant differences were found in relative and absolute lateralization before and after exposure for 6 months. However, relative lateralization was not repeatable for animals tested after 6 months at elevated pCO2 at both experimental temperatures, whereas it was repeatable in individuals kept at the present day level of pCO2. We suggest that these effects may be related to a behavioural malfunction caused by elevated pCO2. Movement duration, decision time and route finding were not repeatable. However, movement duration and decision time increased and route finding decreased in elevated pCO2 (at 15°C), suggesting that elevated pCO2 has negative effects on the locomotor and sensory performance of C. concholepas in the presence of a prey odour, thereby decreasing their ability to forage efficiently.

Domenici P., Torres R. & Manríquez P. H., 2017. Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and temperature on locomotion and the repeatability of lateralization in a keystone marine mollusc. Journal of Experimental Biology 220:667-676. Article.

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