Is the future as tasty as the present? Elevated temperature and hyposalinity affect the quality of Fucus (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) as food for the isopod Idotea balthica
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Climate change is acknowledged to affect directly macroalgal performance but its indirect effect through changes in algal interaction with herbivores remains poorly understood. To study effects of climate change on a macroalga–herbivore interaction, we exposed three range-margin Baltic Sea populations of Fucus (60°N 39°E, 61°N 21°E, 62°N 21°E) in September 2015 to current (15.1 °C; 5.2 PSU) and predicted future (17.5 °C; 2.6 PSU) environments for 7 months. After 6 weeks we tested the indirect effect of climate change through food quality on growth, survival and food consumption of the isopod Idotea balthica while after 7 months we tested the direct effect on algal inducible defenses. We predicted that future stressful conditions impair constitutive and inducible defense traits in Fucus thus resulting in a higher susceptibility to herbivores. The short-term climate stress did decrease thallus toughness of Fucus in one population but isopod food consumption and performance remained unchanged. After 7 months, throughout the populations, Fucus grown in future conditions was softer and more consumed. The grazing attack induced resistance in two populations but irrespective of climate change. Our results show that Fucus can cope with short-term (6 weeks) stress without indirect effects on the interactions with herbivores. However, long-term (7 months) stressed Fucus was consumed more by isopods likely due to a decrease in constitutive resistance traits rather than changes in inducible resistance. This suggests that in near future, marginal populations of Fucus might become more vulnerable to grazing losses, with possibly adverse effects on the abundance and persistence of these populations.
This research was funded by BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (Art 185), funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration and from the Academy of Finland (decision # 273623) for the project BAMBI-Baltic Sea Marine Biodiversity. We thank Joakim Sjöroos and Lukas Novaes Tump for assistance in sampling algae and isopods and in maintaining the aquaria system, and Iita Manninen and Nelson Vásquez for assistance with measuring isopod performance, and Carolin Uebermuth in building up choice bioassays. We are very grateful to Alistair Poore and one anonymous reviewer for many constructive comments that helped to improve this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.
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