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Pitzer College

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology


Ocean acidification has been affecting the world’s oceans since the introduction of anthropogenic CO2 into the atmosphere during the Industrial Revolution. An increase in CO2 uptake from the atmosphere to the ocean has had a profound impact on not only the water chemistry, but marine organisms as well. Ocean acidification is known to have significant impacts on marine invertebrates in terms of calcification and reproduction; however, effects of increased CO2 on marine invertebrate behavior are vastly unknown. Marine conch gastropods have a modified muscularized foot that allows them to escape quite rapidly when faced with a predator cone shell. Utilizing the concentration of seawater CO2 (950 ppm) predicted at the end of the century (2100), both the prey gastropod (Strombus luhuanus) and its cone shell predator (Conus marmoreus) were examined to determine behavior changes in their predator-prey interaction. General boldness of S. luhuanus was heightened by elevation in CO2 by shortening the duration of time the S. luhuanus took to self-right itself by almost half. Prey behavior during predator-prey interaction was not significantly changed through ocean acidification scenarios; however, there were trends to suggest that the control prey would escape faster with use of a running behavior versus a jumping behavior, which was exhibited more often by the elevated- CO2 group. With the C. marmoreus predator, CO2 highly affected the activity level of the predator, where activity was five times that of the control. However, this increased activity did not affect the predatory success of the cone shell, but could increase the possibility of the predator happening upon the prey in the wild. Alteration of behavior of predator and prey interactions of marine invertebrates could have wide-ranging implications to the whole marine food web and entire marine ecosystem.


Animal Sciences | Climate | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Life Sciences