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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Ocean acidification may cause cascading changes in food webs by shifting predator-prey relationships between species like lined shore crabs and mussels. Photo: Todd Walsh, MBARI

Lord JP, Barry JP, Graves D


Impact of climate change on direct and indirect species interactions

For systems with strong interspecific interactions, the indirect effects of climate change may be more powerful than direct effects in shaping future marine communities. Recent marine research has focused largely on the response of individual species to warming and acidification and less on community-level effects. Lord and colleagues found that high CO2 conditions drastically altered the relative impact of crab and snail predation on mussels. High mortality of crabs (Pachygrapsus crassipes) under future CO2 conditions reduced their impact on snail (Nucella ostrina) feeding, leading to increased snail predation on mussels. Meanwhile, direct effects of elevated CO2 on juvenile abalone (40% less shell growth) were greater than crab-related indirect effects, highlighting the variability in climate change impacts on interspecific interactions.


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