Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations

Highlights

  • Living under estuarine conditions causes physiological stress.
  • Estuarine conditions more than pH modulated the mussel performance and phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental variability of the habitat determines the phenotypic plasticity.
  • Environmental conditions of native habitats define the sensibility to climate change stressors.

Abstract

Coasts and their marine biota are exposed to major environmental heterogeneity as a consequence of natural drivers and anthropogenic stressors. Here, individuals of the mussel Perumytilus purpuratus from two different geographical populations exposed to contrasting environmental conditions (i.e. estuarine versus open coastal conditions) were used in a reciprocal transplant and a laboratory experiment in order to differential levels of local adaptation to their native sites, and sensibility to ocean acidification. After characterizing environmentally the two study sites, a set of life-history traits, as well as an estimated of the level of phenotypic plasticity were determined for both mussel populations. From the reciprocal transplant experiment, we observed that mussels originally coming from the estuarine habitat exhibited a distinctive performance pattern usually associated to physiological stress (i.e. higher metabolic rates, lower calcification and growth rates) leading also to important physiological trade-offs, and higher levels of phenotypic plasticity. Alternatively, mussels originating from the open coastal site showed lower physiological phenotypic plasticity suggesting a high grade of local adaptation. Contrary to expected, both populations responded very similar to lower pH conditions (i.e. increased metabolic rates with no important effects on growth and calcification, and lower physiological phenotypic plasticity). The study results indicated that overall estuarine conditions more than isolated pH would be modulating the performance and the level of phenotypic plasticity of the different P. purpuratus geographical populations studied. Our study also emphasizes the necessity of characterizing phenotypic plasticity under multiple-driver environments in order to cast more accurate predictions about the susceptibility of marine biota to future climate stressors such as the ocean acidification.

Ramajo L., Osores S. J., Lagos N. A., Broitman B. R., Navarro J. M., Vargas C. A., Manríquez P. H. & Lardies M. A., in press. Estuarine conditions more than pH modulate the physiological flexibility of mussel Perumytilus purpuratus populations. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Article.

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