Marine Biology

, 167:8 | Cite as

Elevated temperature, but not acidification, reduces fertilization success in the small giant clam, Tridacna maxima

  • Eric J. ArmstrongEmail author
  • Vaimiti Dubousquet
  • Suzanne C. Mills
  • Jonathon H. Stillman
Short Note


Elevated temperature and decreased ocean pH (ocean acidification) are associated with anthropogenic climate change and can adversely affect fertilization and development in marine invertebrates. However, the potential synergistic impact of these stressors on fertilization success remains unresolved for many ecologically and economically important species including giant clams of the genus Tridacna. Individual and interactive effects of warming and acidification on fertilization (successful first cleavage) were investigated in the small giant clam, Tridacna maxima. Experiments were performed on gametes of T. maxima (collected in October 2015 from the island of Moorea, French Polynesia; 17.54° S, 149.83° W) fertilized under ambient conditions (27 °C, pH 8.1) and under conditions congruent with temperature and pH projections for the coming century (31 °C, pH 7.6). Fertilization success was low, but within previously reported levels, under ambient conditions (47.7 ± 3.4%) and was significantly reduced at elevated temperature per se and in combination with lowered pH (18.5 ± 4.4% and 21.2 ± 4.6%, respectively). However, acidification alone had no effect on fertilization success in T. maxima (48.2 ± 3.1%). These results indicate that although fertilization in T. maxima is resilient to lowered pH, it is strongly inhibited by elevated temperature. Populations of T. maxima may, therefore, be at risk of low reproductive success over the coming century as a result of rising ocean temperature.



We would like to thank Antoine Puisay and Benoît Le Marechal, for help in collecting mature broodstock clams, and Franck Lerouvreur, Pascale Ung, and Valentine Brotherson for their invaluable aid in construction and maintenance of the aquarium facilities and in securing CO2 for use in this study. We would also like to thank Dr. Miguel Mies and another anonymous reviewer whose comments/suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript. This research was conducted with US Government support to EJ Armstrong under and awarded by the Department of Defense, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, 32 CFR 168a. A previous version of this article was published as a thesis chapter by Armstrong (2017) and is available at

Compliance with ethical standards

Clams were collected under ordinance no. 88-184/AT of the French Polynesian Ministère de l’Économie, des Finances, du Travail et del’Emploi following all requirements laid out by the Plan de Gestion de l’Espace Maritime (PGEM) in French Polynesia and were maintained and studied in ways commensurate with all pertinent University of California guidelines. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

227_2019_3615_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (134 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 133 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Estuary and Ocean Science Center, Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversityTiburonUSA
  3. 3.Délégation à la Recherche, Government of French PolynesiaPapeeteFrench Polynesia
  4. 4.EPHE, PSL Research University, UPVD-CNRS, Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE), USR 3278Mo’oreaFrench Polynesia
  5. 5.Laboratoire d’Excellence “Corail”CorailFrench Polynesia

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