Vulnerability of juvenile hermit crabs to reduced seawater pH and shading

Highlights

• Local impacts may potentially increase effects of global environmental changes.
• We assessed combined effects of reduced pH and shading caused by harbor structures.
• Reduced seawater pH and shading affected behavioral responses of hermit crabs.
• Multiple stressors induced high mortality and reduced growth.
• Maintenance of local populations may be impaired by the impact of both stressors.

Abstract

Multiple simultaneous stressors induced by anthropogenic activities may amplify their impacts on marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification, in combination with other anthropogenic impacts (apart from temperature) are poorly understood, especially in coastal regions. In these areas, shading caused by infrastructure development, such as harbor construction, may potentially interact with CO2-induced pH reduction and affect invertebrate populations. Here, we evaluated the effects of reduced pH (7.6) and shading (24h in darkness) on mortality, growth, calcification and displacement behavior to live predator (danger signal) and dead gastropod (resource availability signal) odors using juveniles of the hermit crab Pagurus criniticornis collected in Araçá Bay (São Paulo state, Southeastern Brazil). After a 98 day experimental period, both stressors had a significant interaction effect on mortality, and an additive effect on total growth. No difference in calcification was recorded among treatments, indicating that individuals were able to maintain calcification under reduced pH conditions. When exposed to odor of live predators, crab responses were only affected by shading. However, an interactive effect between both stressors was observed in response to gastropod odor, leading to reduced displacement behavior. This study shows how local disturbance impacts may enhance the effects of global environmental change on intertidal crustacean populations.

Ragagnin M. N., McCarthy I. D., Silva Fernandez W., Tschiptschin A. P. & Turra A., in press. Vulnerability of juvenile hermit crabs to reduced seawater pH and shading. Marine Environmental Research. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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