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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 677:51-65 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13851

Contrasting offspring responses to variation in salinity and temperature among populations of a coastal crab: A maladaptive ecological surprise?

Zoran Šargač1, Luis Giménez2,3, Steffen Harzsch1, Jakob Krieger1, Kasper Fjordside4, Gabriela Torres2,*

1University of Greifswald, Zoological Institute and Museum, Department of Cytology and Evolutionary Biology, 17489 Greifswald, Germany
2Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, 27498 Helgoland, Germany
3School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, LL59 5AB Menai Bridge, UK
4University of Southern Denmark, Department of Biology, Marine Biological Research Centre, 5300 Kerteminde, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Current understanding of species capacities to respond to climate change is limited by the amount of information available about intraspecific variation in the responses. Therefore, we quantified between- and within- population variation in larval performance (survival, development, and growth to metamorphosis) of the shore crab Carcinus maenas in response to key environmental drivers (temperature, salinity) in 2 populations from regions with contrasting salinities (32-33 PSU: Helgoland, North Sea; 16-20 PSU: Kerteminde, Baltic Sea). We also accounted for the effect(s) of salinity experienced during embryogenesis, which differs between populations. We found contrasting patterns between populations and embryonic salinity conditions. In the Helgoland population, we observed a strong thermal mitigation of low salinity stress (TMLS) for all performance indicators, when embryos were kept in seawater. The negative effects of low salinity on survival were mitigated at increased temperatures; only at high temperatures were larvae exposed to low salinity able to sustain high growth rates and reduced developmental time, thereby metamorphosing with comparable levels of carbon and nitrogen to those reared in seawater. By contrast, larvae from the Kerteminde population showed a detrimental effect of low salinity, consistent with a maladaptive response and a weak TMLS. Low salinity experienced during embryogenesis pre-empted the development of TMLS in both populations, and reduced survival for the Kerteminde population, which is exposed to low salinity. Our study emphasises the importance of evaluating species responses to variation in temperature and salinity across populations; the existence of maladaptive responses and the importance of the maternal habitat should not be underestimated.


KEY WORDS: Interpopulation variation · Post-zygotic effects · Larval performance · Environmental drivers · Carcinus maenas


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Cite this article as: Šargač Z, Giménez L, Harzsch S, Krieger J, Fjordside K, Torres G (2021) Contrasting offspring responses to variation in salinity and temperature among populations of a coastal crab: A maladaptive ecological surprise?. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 677:51-65. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13851

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