MEPS 589:141-152 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12453

A comparison of life-history traits in calcifying Spirorbinae polychaetes living along natural pH gradients

Noelle M. Lucey1,2,3,*, Chiara Lombardi2, Maurizio Florio1,2, Simon D. Rundle3, Piero Calosi4, Maria Cristina Gambi5

1University of Pavia, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Pavia 27100, Italy
2Marine Environment Research Centre ENEA, Pozzuolo di Lerici, La Spezia 19032, Italy
3Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, Plymouth University, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK
4Département de Biologie, Chimie et Géographie, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski QC G5L 3A1, Quebec, Canada
5Stazione Zoologica ‘Anton Dohrn’, Dept. Integrative Marine Ecology, Villa Dohrn-Benthic Ecology Center, Ischia, Napoli 80121, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Low-pH vent systems are ideal natural laboratories to study the consequences of long-term low-pH exposure on marine species and thus identify life-history traits associated with low-pH tolerance. This knowledge can help to inform predictions on which types of species may be less vulnerable in future ocean acidification (OA) scenarios. Accordingly, we investigated how traits of calcifying polychaete species (Serpulidae, Spirorbinae) varied with pH using a functional trait analysis at 2 natural pH gradients around the Castello Aragonese islet off Ischia, Italy. We first observed the distribution and abundance patterns of all calcifying polychaete epiphytes in the canopy of Posidonia oceanica seagrass across these gradients. We then used laboratory trials to compare fecundity, settlement success, and juvenile survival in the dominant species from a control (Pileolaria militaris Claparède, 1870) and a low-pH site (Simplaria sp.). We found significantly higher reproductive output, juvenile settlement rates, and juvenile survival in Simplaria sp. individuals from the low-pH site, compared to P. militaris individuals from control pH sites, when observed in their respective in situ pH conditions. Our results suggest that tolerance to low pH may result, in part, from traits associated with successful reproduction and rapid settlement under low-pH conditions. This finding implies that other species with similar life-history traits may respond similarly, and should be targeted for future OA tolerance research.


KEY WORDS: Ocean acidification · Calcifiers · Settlement success · Fecundity · Early-life survival · Serpulidae · Population resilience


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Cite this article as: Lucey NM, Lombardi C, Florio M, Rundle SD, Calosi P, Gambi MC (2018) A comparison of life-history traits in calcifying Spirorbinae polychaetes living along natural pH gradients. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 589:141-152. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12453

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