Declines over the last two decades of five intertidal invertebrate species in the western North Atlantic

Climate change has already altered the environmental conditions of the world’s oceans. Here we report declines in gastropod abundances and recruitment of mussels (Mytilus edulis) and barnacles (Semibalanus balanoides) over the last two decades that are correlated with changes in temperature and ocean conditions. Mussel recruitment is declining by 15.7% per year, barnacle recruitment by 5.0% per year, and abundances of three common gastropods are declining by an average of 3.1% per year (Testudinalia testudinalisLittorina littorea, and Nucella lapillus). The declines in mussels and the common periwinkle (L. littorea) are correlated with warming sea temperatures and the declines in T. testudinalis and N. lapillus are correlated with aragonite saturation state, which affects rates of shell calcification. These species are common on shores throughout the North Atlantic and their loss is likely to lead to simplification of an important food web on rocky shores.

Petraitis P. S. & Dudgeon S. R., 2020. Declines over the last two decades of five intertidal invertebrate species in the western North Atlantic. Communications Biology 3: 591. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01326-0. Article.

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