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Title: Temperature and pH Effects on Growth of Four Species of Commercially-Important Bivalves from Tank Experiments
The Gulf of Maine is a highly productive and economically important region in the northwestern Atlantic that has undergone rapid warming in recent decades and is susceptible to ocean acidification (OA). These stressors may have substantial impacts on local fisheries. Therefore, understanding the combined effects of warming and OA to commercially important shellfish is vital. To test responses to warming and OA, Mercenaria mercenaria (hard clam), Mya arenaria (soft-shell clam), Plactopectin magellanicus (sea scallop), and both juvenile and adult Arctica islandica (ocean quahog) were grown in flowing seawater tanks for 20.5 weeks in controlled pH (7.4, 7.6, 7.8 or 8.0 (ambient) ± 0.02) and temperature (6, 9 or 12 ± 0.56 °C) conditions at Bowdoin College’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center. The specimens’ diet was supplemented with high-quality food (Shellfish Diet) throughout the experiment. Temperature effects were a significant contributor in all shell growth metrics (maximum height, dry weight and buoyant weight) in all species except the height and dry weight of adult A. islandica. Additionally, pH effects were significant in the height of M. mercenaria and in the dry weight of juvenile A. islandica samples. Overall, mortality rates ranged from 1.5% in juvenile A. islandica to 24% in M. mercenaria, with results varying by species and treatment conditions. Additionally, differences in final shell condition were noted among the various treatments indicating that, although most of the organisms survived and grew, the elevated temperature and/or lower pH conditions might not have been ideal for thriving. Considering all results of growth and survival, the four species showed a differential response to the same warming and acidification conditions. As suggested by prior research, the availability of high-quality food may allow certain species to tolerate the future warming and/or OA conditions modeled in this experiment. Experimental results may reveal the species-specific resiliency of economically valuable shellfish to changing ocean conditions as well as guide future planning to safeguard regional ecosystems and fisheries.  more » « less
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American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
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National Science Foundation
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