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MEPS 729:117-133 (2024)  -  DOI:

Context-dependent resilience of intertidal seagrass and venerid clams after hyposalinity stress

Marta Román1,*, Elsa Vázquez1, Rosa M. Viejo2,3, Sarah A. Woodin4, David S. Wethey4, Salvador Román1, Nicolás Weidberg1,4,7, Jesús S. Troncoso1, María M. Mendez5,6, Celia Olabarria1

1Centro de Investigación Mariña, and Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía Animal, Facultade de Ciencias do Mar, Universidade de Vigo, Campus Universitario As Lagoas-Marcosende, 36310 Vigo, Spain
2Área de Biodiversidad y Conservación, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, 28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
3 Instituto de Investigación en Cambio Global, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (IICG-URJC), 28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
4Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, 715 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
5Instituto de Biología de Organismos Marinos- Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Bvd. Brown 2915, Puerto Madryn, Argentina
6Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, Bvd. Brown 3051, Puerto Madryn, Argentina
7Present address: Departamento de Biología de Organismos y Sistemas, Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo 33071, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Reduced salinity in estuarine areas can negatively affect intertidal seagrass meadows where clams are harvested. However, legacy effects of hyposalinity on seagrasses and infaunal clams and on their interactions have seldom been studied. Legacy effects were examined in the intertidal seagrass Zostera noltei and juveniles of the clams Venerupis corrugata, Ruditapes decussatus and R. philippinarum. Low-salinity stress was applied to mesocosms that included assemblages of seagrass and the 3 clam species that were subsequently transplanted to 2 shellfish beds characterized by different environmental conditions (i.e. seawater temperature, salinity and nutrient concentration). After 2 mo, the morphological and biochemical traits of Z. noltei and the growth and mortality of the clams were measured. Past hyposalinity stress increased clam mortality and decreased Z. noltei leaf length. The native V. corrugata was the most vulnerable to past hyposalinity, whereas the introduced clam R. philippinarum was the most resilient. The presence of clams was associated with greater nitrogen content and biomass of the above-ground parts of Z. noltei. Survival of the clams after past hyposalinity stress was greater below Z. noltei than below bare sediment, indicating persistent positive interactions following the harsh environmental conditions and during low-salinity periods in the field. At the colder and more nutrient-rich site, positive interactions were more frequent and Z. noltei performed better. This supported the influence of abiotic conditions on the recovery process. Nonetheless, enhanced survival of clams below Z. noltei indicates that Z. noltei could favour the sustainability of these shellfisheries after exposure to extreme rainfall events.

KEY WORDS: Shellfisheries · Climate change · Low-salinity stress · Ruditapes philippinarum · Ruditapes decussatus · Venerupis corrugata · Seagrass · Recovery

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Cite this article as: Román M, Vázquez E, Viejo RM, Woodin SA and others (2024) Context-dependent resilience of intertidal seagrass and venerid clams after hyposalinity stress. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 729:117-133.

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