Posts Tagged 'behaviour'

Bigfin reef squid demonstrate capacity for conditional discrimination and projected future carbon dioxide levels have no effect on learning capabilities

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are being absorbed by the oceans, a process known as ocean acidification, and risks adversely affecting a variety of behaviours in a range of marine species, including inhibited learning in some fishes. However, the effects of elevated CO2 on learning in advanced invertebrates such as cephalopods are unknown. Any impacts to the learning abilities of cephalopods could have far-reaching consequences for their populations and the communities they inhabit. Cephalopods have some of the most advanced cognitive abilities among invertebrates and are one of the few invertebrate taxa in which conditional discrimination has been demonstrated, though the trait has not been demonstrated in any species of squid. Here, we tested for the first time the capacity for conditional discrimination in a squid species (Sepioteuthis lessoniana). Furthermore, we investigated the effects of projected future CO2 levels (1,084 µatm) on conditional discrimination and learning more generally. A three-task experiment within a two-choice arena was used to test learning and conditional discrimination. Learning was measured by improvements in task completion in repeated trials over time and the number of trials required to pass each task. Squid exhibited significant learning capabilities, with an increase in correct choices over successive trials and a decrease in the number of trials needed to complete the successive tasks. Six of the 12 squid tested successfully passed all three tasks indicating a capacity for conditional discrimination in the species. Elevated CO2 had no effect on learning or on the capacity for conditional discrimination in squid. This study highlights the remarkable cognitive abilities of S. lessoniana, demonstrated by their capacity for conditional discrimination, and suggests that ocean acidification will not compromise learning abilities. However, other behavioural traits in the species have been shown to be altered at comparable elevated CO2 conditions. It is not clear why some ecologically important behaviours are altered by elevated CO2 whereas others are unaffected. Future research should focus on the physiological mechanism responsible for altered behaviours in squid at elevated CO2.

Continue reading ‘Bigfin reef squid demonstrate capacity for conditional discrimination and projected future carbon dioxide levels have no effect on learning capabilities’

Experimental evidence of uncertain future of the keystone ragworm Hediste diversicolor (O.F. Müller, 1776) under climate change conditions


  • Temperature enhances the impact of acidification on polychaetes survival and burrowing behavior.
  • Regardless the temperature, acidification results in a reduction on polychaetes feeding rate
  • Faster regeneration at the lowest temperature and less regenerated chaetigers at lower pH levels
  • Climate change induced oxidative stress in H. diversicolor
  • Polychaetes metabolic capacity was enhanced in stressed organisms, with no expenditure of energy reserves.


It is currently assumed that climate change related factors pose severe challenges to biodiversity maintenance. This paper assesses the multi-stressor effects of elevated temperature (15 °C as control, 25 °C as elevated) and CO2 levels (pH 8.1 as control, 7.5 and 7.0 representing acidifying conditions) on the physiological (survival, and regenerative capacity), behavioral (feeding and burrowing activities), and biochemical changes (metabolic capacity, oxidative status and biotransformation mechanisms) experienced by the keystone polychaete Hediste diversicolor. Temperature rise enlarged the adverse effect of marine acidification on the survival of H. diversicolor, delayed the beginning of the excavation activity, enhancing the negative effects that pH decrease had in the burrowing behavior of this polychaete. Additionally, regardless of the temperature, exposure of H. diversicolor to acidification results in a reduction in the feeding rate. It is the first time that this decreased feeding capacity is found related to seawater acidification in this species. The healing of the wound and the blastemal formation were retarded due to these two climatic factors which hinder the regenerative process of polychaetes. These vital physiological functions of H. diversicolor can be related to the oxidative stress induced by climate change conditions since free radicals overproduced will impair cells functioning affecting species biochemical and physiological performance, including feeding, and tissue regeneration. The present results also demonstrated that although polychaete’s metabolic capacity was enhanced under stress conditions, organisms were still able to increase or maintain their energy reserves. Our findings are of major environmental relevance considering that predicted climate change conditions will affect species vital and ecological and physiological capacities. These can be translated into shrinking not only at the individual and population level but also in microbial and endofaunal diversities, in the detritus processing in estuaries and biogeochemical cycles at the ecosystem level. Thus the conservation of H. diversicolor populations is vital for the normal functioning of estuarine mudflat ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Experimental evidence of uncertain future of the keystone ragworm Hediste diversicolor (O.F. Müller, 1776) under climate change conditions’

Variability in sediment-water carbonate chemistry and bivalve abundance after bivalve settlement in Long Island Sound, Milford, Connecticut


  • Total bivalve community composition influenced by grain size, pH, alkalinity, and date
  • Short term drivers of bivalve community settlement influenced by carbonate chemistry parameters
  • Different bivalve species respond to different carbonate chemistry cues for settlement.


Cues that drive bivalve settlement and abundance in sediments are not well understood, but recent reports suggest that sediment carbonate chemistry may influence bivalve abundance. In 2013, we conducted field experiments to assess the relationship between porewater sediment carbonate chemistry (pH, alkalinity (At), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)), grain size, and bivalve abundance throughout the July–September settlement period at two sites in Long Island Sound (LIS), CT. Two dominate bivalves species were present during the study period Mya arenaria and Nucula spp. Akaike’s linear information criterion models, indicated 29% of the total community abundance was predicted by grain size, salinity, and pH. When using 2 weeks of data during the period of peak bivalve settlement, pH and phosphate concentrations accounted 44% of total bivalve community composition and 71% of Nucula spp. abundance with pH, phosphate, and silica. These results suggest that sediment carbonate chemistry may influence bivalve abundance in LIS.

Continue reading ‘Variability in sediment-water carbonate chemistry and bivalve abundance after bivalve settlement in Long Island Sound, Milford, Connecticut’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book