Diminished growth and vitality in juvenile Hydractinia echinata under anticipated future temperature and variable nutrient conditions


In a warming climate, rising seawater temperatures and declining primary and secondary production will drastically affect growth and fitness of marine invertebrates in the northern Atlantic Ocean. To study the ecological performance of juvenile hydroids Hydractinia echinata we exposed them to current and predicted water temperatures which reflect the conditions in the inter- and subtidal in combination with changing food availability (high and low) in laboratory experiments. Here we show, that the interplay between temperature stress and diminished nutrition affected growth and vitality of juvenile hydroids more than either factor alone, while high food availability mitigated their stress responses. Our numerical growth model indicated that the growth of juvenile hydroids at temperatures beyond their optimum is a saturation function of energy availability. We demonstrated that the combined effects of environmental stressors should be taken into consideration when evaluating consequences of climate change. Interactive effects of ocean warming, decreasing resource availability and increasing organismal energy demand may have major impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Scientific Reports 11: 1-4