Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters

Global increases in sea temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 may affect the health of calcifying shellfish. Little is known, however, about how competitive interactions within and between species may influence how species respond to multiple stressors. We experimentally assessed separate and combined effects of temperature (12 or 16°C) and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppm) on the health and biological functioning of native (Ostrea edulis) and invasive (Crassostrea gigas) oysters held alone and in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. We found evidence of reduced phagocytosis under elevated CO2 and, when combined with increased temperature, a reduction in the number of circulating haemocytes. Generally, C. gigas showed lower respiration rates relative to O. edulis when the species were in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. In contrast, O. edulis showed a higher respiration rate relative to C. gigas when held in an interspecific mixture and exhibited lower clearance rates when held in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. Overall, clearance rates of C. gigas were consistently greater than those of O. edulis. Collectively, our findings indicate that a species’ ability to adapt metabolic processes to environmental conditions can be modified by biotic context and may make some species (here, C. gigas) competitively superior and less vulnerable to future climatic scenarios at local scales. If these conclusions are generic, the relative role of species interactions, and other biotic parameters, in altering the outcomes of climate change will require much greater research emphasis.

Green D. S., Christie H., Pratt N., Boots B., Godbold J. A., Solan M., Hauton C., 2017. Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters. Marine Ecology Progress Series 582: 93-103. Article.

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