Predicting the variation in Echinogammarus marinus at its southernmost limits under global warming scenarios: can the sex-ratio make a difference?

Alexandra Guerra, Nuno Leite, Joao Carlos Marques, Alex Ford, Irene Martins

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Abstract

Understanding the environmental parameters that constrain the distribution of a species at its latitudinal extremes is critical for predicting how ecosystems react to climate change. Our first aim was to predict the variation in the amphipod populations of Echinogammarus marinus from the southernmost limit of its distribution under global warming scenarios. Our second aim was to test whether sex-ratio fluctuations - a mechanism frequently displayed by amphipods - respond to the variations in populations under altered climate conditions. To achieve these aims, scenarios were run with a validated model of E. marinus populations. Simulations were divided into: phase I - simulation of the effect of climate change on amphipod populations, and phase II - simulation of the effect of climate change on populations with male and female proportions. In both phases, temperature (T), salinity (S) and temperature and salinity (T-S) were tested.
Results showed that E. marinus populations are highly sensitive to increases in temperature (>2 °C), which has adverse effects on amphipod recruitment and growth. Results from the climate change scenarios coupled with the sex-ratio fluctuations depended largely on the degree of female bias within population. Temperature increase of 2 °C had less impact on female-biased populations, particularly when conjugated with increases in salinity. Male-biased populations were highly sensitive to any variation in temperature and/or salinity; these populations exhibited a long-term decline in density. Simulations in which temperature increased more than 4 °C led to a continuous decline in the E. marinus population. According to this work, E. marinus populations at their southernmost limit are vulnerable to global warming. We anticipate that in Europe, temperature increases of 2 °C will incite a withdrawal of the population of 5°N from the amphipod species located at southernmost geographical borders. This effect is discussed in relation to the distribution of E. marinus along the Atlantic coast.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1029
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume466-467
Early online date30 Aug 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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