Acidification and warming affect both a calcifying predator and prey, but not their interaction

Landes, Anja and Zimmer, Martin (2012) Acidification and warming affect both a calcifying predator and prey, but not their interaction Marine Ecology Progress Series, 450 . pp. 1-10. DOI 10.3354/meps09666.

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Both ocean warming and acidification have been demonstrated to affect the growth, performance and reproductive success of calcifying invertebrates. However, relatively little is known regarding how such environmental change may affect interspecific interactions. We separately treated green crabs Carcinus maenas and periwinkles Littorina littorea under conditions that mimicked either ambient conditions (control) or warming and acidification, both separately and in combination, for 5 mo. After 5 mo, the predators, prey and predator-prey interactions were screened for changes in response to environmental change. Acidification negatively affected the closer-muscle length of the crusher chela and correspondingly the claw-strength increment in C. maenas. The effects of warming and/or acidification on L. littorea were less consistent but indicated weaker shells in response to acidification. On the community level, however, we found no evidence that predator-prey interactions will change in the future. Further experiments exploring the impacts of warming and acidification on key ecological interactions are needed instead of basing predictions of ecosystem change solely on species-specific responses to environmental change.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Marine ecosystems are impacted by warming and acidification of the water, which affect organisms' metabolism and growth rates, and weaken hard-shelled species through reduced availability of carbonate. Little is known about (1) the synergy of warming and acidification, and (2) how these stressors affect biotic interactions. Landes & Zimmer show that the predicted changes in seawater characteristics weaken both the claw muscles of green crabs and the shells of periwinkles. Predator–prey interactions between these 2 species, which play a role in mediating benthic primary production and community composition of coastal systems, thus remain unchanged. This implies that warming and acidification do not necessarily modify ecosystem functioning.
Keywords: Benthic Ecology; Acidification · Warming · Environmental change · Calcification · Predator-prey interaction · Coastal benthic communities
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.3354/meps09666
ISSN: 0171-8630
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2012 13:23
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2012 15:11

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