Ocean acidification alters predator behaviour and reduces predation rate

Watson, Sue-Ann, Fields, Jennifer B., and Munday, Philip L. (2017) Ocean acidification alters predator behaviour and reduces predation rate. Biology Letters, 13. 20160797. pp. 1-5.

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Ocean acidification poses a range of threats to marine invertebrates; however, the emerging and likely widespread effects of rising carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels on marine invertebrate behaviour are still little understood. Here, we show that ocean acidification alters and impairs key ecological behaviours of the predatory cone snail Conus marmoreus. Projected near-future seawater CO₂ levels (975 µatm) increased activity in this coral reef molluscivore more than threefold (from less than 4 to more than 12 mm min⁻¹) and decreased the time spent buried to less than one-third when compared with the present-day control conditions (390 µatm). Despite increasing activity, elevated CO₂ reduced predation rate during predator–prey interactions with control-treated humpbacked conch, Gibberulus gibberulus gibbosus; 60% of control predators successfully captured and consumed their prey, compared with only 10% of elevated CO₂ predators. The alteration of key ecological behaviours of predatory invertebrates by near-future ocean acidification could have potentially far-reaching implications for predator–prey interactions and trophic dynamics in marine ecosystems. Combined evidence that the behaviours of both species in this predator–prey relationship are altered by elevated CO₂ suggests food web interactions and ecosystem structure will become increasingly difficult to predict as ocean acidification advances over coming decades.

Item ID: 46998
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-957X
Keywords: trophic interaction; predator–prey; carbon dioxide; invertebrate; mollusc; coral reef
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Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3667951

Funders: Lizard Island Research Station (LIRS), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: LIRS Yulgilbar Foundation Fellowship
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.jc77j
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2017 23:39
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 20%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 30%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 20%
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