Understanding the impact of ocean acidification and warming on communities and ecosystems is a researcher priority. This can only be achieved through a combination of experimental and field approaches that would allow developing a mechanistic understanding of impacts across level of biological organizations. Surprisingly, most published studies are still focusing on single species responses with little consideration for interspecific interactions. In this study, the impacts of a 3 days exposure to three parameters (temperature, pH, and presence/absence of the predator cue of the crab Charybdis japonica) and their interactions on an ecologically important endpoint were evaluated: the byssus production of the mussel Mytilus coruscus. Tested temperatures (25°C and 30°C) were within the present range of natural variability whereas pH (8.1, 7.7, and 7.4) covered present as well as near-future natural variability. As expected, the presence of the crab cue induced an antipredator response in Mytilus coruscus (significant 10% increase in byssus secretion rate, 22% increase in frequency of shed byssus, and 30% longer byssus). Decreased pH but not temperature had a significant negative impact on the same endpoints (up to a 17% decrease in byssus secretion rate, 40% decrease in frequency of shed byssus, and 10% shorter byssus at pH 7.3 as compared with pH 8.1) with no significant interactions between the three tested parameters. In this study, it has been hypothesized that pH and predator cue have different modes of action and lead to conflicting functional responses (escape response versus stronger attachment). Functional consequences for ecosystem dynamics still need to be investigated.
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Vol. 34 • No. 2