Upwelling intensity modulates the fitness and physiological performance of coastal species: implications for the aquaculture of the scallop Argopecten purpuratus in the Humboldt Current System

Highlights

• The activity of PLV upwelling centre affected the environmental variability of Tongoy Bay.

• Stronger upwelling generated more acidic and low oxygen environmental conditions.

• A. purpuratus showed biological mechanisms to handle acidified and hypoxic conditions.

• More intense upwelling events decreased the survivorship of A. purpuratus.

• A potential upwelling intensification will negatively impact the scallop aquaculture.

Abstract

Understanding how marine species cope with the natural environmental variability of their native habitats will provide significant information about their sensitivity to the potential environmental changes driven by climate change. In particular, marine species inhabiting upwelling ecosystems are experiencing low seawater temperatures, as well as, acidic and low oxygen conditions as a consequence of the nature of the deep upwelled waters. Our study is focused on one of the most important socio-economical resources of the Humboldt Current System (HCS): the scallop Argopecten purpuratus which has been historically subjected to intensive aquaculture in areas influenced by upwelling processes. Here, a long-term field experiment was performed to understand how tolerant and well-locally-adapted is A. purpuratus to upwelling conditions by studying a set of fitness, physiological, and biomineralogical traits. Stronger upwelling generated a minor water column stratification, with lower temperatures, pH, and oxygen conditions. On the contrary, as upwelling weakened, temperature, pH, and oxygen availability increased. Finally, upwelling intensity also determined the number, duration, and intensity of the cooling and de-oxygenation events occurring in A. purpuratus habitat, as well as, the food availability (chlorophyll-a concentration, Chl-a). Physiologically, A. purpuratus was able to cope with stressful environmental conditions imposed by higher upwelling intensities by enhancing its metabolic and calcification rates, as well, producing higher concentrations of the shell organic matter under stronger upwelling conditions. However, these physiological changes impacted the total energy budget, which was highly dependent on Chl-a concentration, revealing traits trade-offs with significant fitness costs (higher mortalities emerged when longer and more intense upwelling events succeed). Our study increases the knowledge about the physiological performance and tolerance of this important resource to the ocean acidification and ocean-deoxygenation imposed by variable upwelling intensities, as well as, its potential vulnerability under future changing conditions driven by a potential upwelling intensification.

Ramajo L., Valladares M., Astudillo O., Fernández C., Rodríguez-Navarro A. B., Watt-Arévalo P., Núñez M., Grenier C., Román R., Aguayo P., Lardies M. A., Broitman B., Tapia P. & Tapia C., in press. Upwelling intensity modulates the fitness and physiological performance of coastal species: implications for the aquaculture of the scallop Argopecten purpuratus in the Humboldt Current System. Science of The Total Environment. Article (subscription required).

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