Impairment of swimming performance in Tritia reticulata (L.) veligers under projected ocean acidification and warming scenarios

J.G.Fonseca,F.Laranjeiro,D.B.Freitas,et al.



Tritia reticulata (L.) is a neogastropod ubiquitous in the intertidal communities of the NE Atlantic. Its life cycle relies on the swimming performance of planktonic early life stages, whose sensitivity to the climate conditions projected for the near future, namely of ocean acidification (OA) and warming (W), is, to our best knowledge, unknown. To examine the resilience of larval stages to future environmental conditions, this work investigates the effect of OA-W on the swimming performance of T. reticulata veligers under a range of experimental conditions, based on the end-of-century projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Veligers were exposed to six experimental scenarios for 14 days, employing a full factorial design with three temperatures (T°C: 18, 20 and 22 °C) and two pH levels (pHtarget: 8.1 and 7.8). Mortality was assessed throughout the trial, after which swimming behaviour – characterised by the activity, speed and the distance travelled by veligers – was analysed by automated video recordings in a Zebrabox® device. Mortality increased with OA-W and, although more active, larvae travelled shorter distances revealing reduced swimming speed under acidic and warmer conditions, with the interaction of the tested stressors – pH and T°C – being highly significant. Results motivated the morpho-histological analysis of larvae preserved at the end of the trial, to check for the integrity of the organs involved in veligers' motion: statocysts, velum and foot. Statocyst and velar morpho-structure were conserved but histological damage of metapodial epithelia was evident under acidity, namely an apparent hypertrophy and protrusion of the secretory cells, with dispersed pigmented granules and, at 22 °C, less cilia, with potential functional implications. Negative consequences of the OA-W scenarios tested on veligers' competence are unveiled, pointing towards the eminent threat these phenomena constitute to T. reticulata perpetuation in case no mitigation measures are taken, and projections become effective.