Volume 73

Snails on the menu?: Characterizing the resilience of an emerging California shellfish species to marine heatwaves

Xochitl, C; G. Hofmann
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 58-59

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Three Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Since climate change (e.g. ocean warming and acidification) threatens marine ecosystems that support millions of livelihoods, more global change biology research is necessary to address challenges in managing natural resources. For example, California’s kelp forests are one of our planet’s most productive and dynamic ecosystems--supporting large and small-scale fisheries. However, thermal stress induced by marine heat waves has been documented to have impacts on the productivity of coastal ecosystems. There remains to be a limited understanding on how thermal stress will affect economically important shellfish species at early life stages. To fill this gap, I will present my thermotolerance findings on the Kellet’s whelk (Kelletia kelletii), an emerging seafood species of temperate California reefs. In this study I tested the tolerance to marine heat wave temperatures of two early life stages: veligers and hatchlings. By exposing larvae to a range of temperatures (15-38 ˚C) in acute thermotolerance trials (1 hr) my major findings were that temperatures that induced developmental abnormalities were at a lower temperature than temperatures that caused mortality. In this presentation, I will share some of the first insights into a molluscan shellfish species that shares both habitat and biology with similar species of high ecological and economic value. Finally, I will compare my findings with long-term environmental data collected at the sites where whelks are found. Marine heatwaves present conditions that may decrease the quality of performance necessary for larvae to make it through early development. My work highlights the significance in understanding how economically important species respond to marine heatwaves so we may ensure sustainable livelihoods at sea.

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