Marine Biology

, 165:64 | Cite as

Non-additive effects of air and water warming on an intertidal predator–prey interaction

  • William KingEmail author
  • Kenneth P. Sebens
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Climate change alters multiple physical drivers that act concurrently on ecological communities. Evidence suggests widespread non-additive effects between multiple drivers; most of this evidence, however, is based on species-level responses, which is problematic because community responses to environmental change also depend on species interactions. To address this knowledge gap, this study experimentally manipulated two physical drivers and examined the responses of a predator–prey interaction. The two drivers tested are fundamental in intertidal systems: air and water temperatures. The two species were the intertidal dogwhelk, Nucella ostrina, and its barnacle prey, Balanus glandula. The objective was to test alternative hypotheses that air and water warming have additive vs. non-additive effects on the whelk-barnacle interaction. A 14-day mesocosm experiment was conducted in which animals were subjected to one of four temperature treatments: ambient (no temperature manipulation; water 12 °C, air 13 °C), warm water (15 °C), warm air (27 °C), or combined (water 15 °C, air 27 °C). There were two key findings. First, air and water warming non-additively affected interaction strength: warm water mitigated a 35% decrease in mean whelk feeding rate caused by warm air. Second, air warming had contrasting effects on individual growth rates of predator and prey. While whelk growth decreased by ~ 60% in warm air, barnacle growth increased by 47%. These findings suggest that combined air and water warming will benefit barnacle populations more than their whelk predators. This study highlights the value of integrating species performances and interactions to understand how multiple physical drivers may affect community structure.



Emily Carrington and the FHL maintenance crew lent essential equipment. Comments from Jennifer Ruesink, Hilary Hayford, Lauren Buckley, Megan Dethier, Eliza Heery, Alexander Lowe, Ryan Kelly, and two reviewers improved this and an earlier version of this manuscript. Animal collectors, button pressers, and troubleshooters included Fred Ellis, Matt Schlinger, Tom Campbell, Molly Roberts, Dara Yiu, Lyda Harris, Katie Dobkowski, and Sasha Seroy. This work was supported by FHL (Richard and Megumi Strathmann Fellowship and Patricia L. Dudley Fellowship); the University of Washington Department of Biology (Biology-Friday Harbor Labs Award); and the Pacific Northwest Shell Club (Trevor Roberts Award).

Compliance with ethical standards

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Animals were collected with permission of Friday Harbor Laboratories.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

227_2018_3320_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (402 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 402 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Friday Harbor LaboratoriesUniversity of WashingtonFriday HarborUSA

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