Ocean acidification and elevated temperature negatively affect recruitment, oxygen consumption and calcification of the reef-building Dendropoma cristatum early life stages: evidence from a manipulative field study

Highlights

• Effects of pH and temperature in a Mediterranean intertidal reef-building species were tested for the first time;

• Portions of vermetid reefs have been transplanted in a natural CO2 vent and air-temperature was manipulated;

• The combination of high temperature and low pH reduced the oxygen consumption of the vermetid D. cristatum;

• Reproductive success, recruitment, and calcification of early life stages of D. cristatum were impacted by temperature and pH;

• Shell of embryos and recruits exposed to high pCO2 showed an increase in Mg concentration and a higher dissolution.

Abstract

Expected temperature rise and seawater pH decrease may affect marine organism fitness. By a transplant experiment involving air-temperature manipulation along a natural CO2 gradient, we investigated the effects of high pCO2 (~1100 μatm) and elevated temperature (up to +2 °C than ambient conditions) on the reproductive success, recruitment, growth, shell chemical composition and oxygen consumption of the early life stages of the intertidal reef-building vermetid Dendropoma cristatum. Reproductive success was predominantly affected by temperature increase, with encapsulated embryos exhibiting higher survival in control than elevated temperature conditions, which were in turn unaffected by altered seawater pH levels. Decreasing pH (alone or in combination with temperature) significantly affected the shell growth and shell chemical composition of both embryos and recruits. Elevated temperatures along with lower pH led to decreases of ~30% oxygen consumption and ~60% recruitment. Our results suggest that the early life stages of the reef-builder D. cristatum are highly sensitive to expected environmental change, with major consequences on the intertidal vermetid reefs they build and indirectly on the high biodiversity levels they support.

Alessi C., Giomi F., Furnari F., Sarà G., Chemello R. & Milazzo M., in press. Ocean acidification and elevated temperature negatively affect recruitment, oxygen consumption and calcification of the reef-building Dendropoma cristatum early life stages: Evidence from a manipulative field study. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).


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