Ocean acidification impairs vermetid reef recruitment

Marco Milazzo, Riccardo Rodolfo-Metalpa, Vera Bin San Chan, Maoz Fine, Cinzia Alessi, Vengatesen Thiyagarajan, Jason M. Hall-Spencer, Renato Chemello

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90 Scopus citations


Vermetids form reefs in sub-tropical and warm-temperate waters that protect coasts from erosion, regulate sediment transport and accumulation, serve as carbon sinks and provide habitat for other species. The gastropods that form these reefs brood encapsulated larvae; they are threatened by rapid environmental changes since their ability to disperse is very limited. We used transplant experiments along a natural CO2 gradient to assess ocean acidification effects on the reef-building gastropod Dendropoma petraeum. We found that although D. petraeum were able to reproduce and brood at elevated levels of CO2, recruitment success was adversely affected. Long-term exposure to acidified conditions predicted for the year 2100 and beyond caused shell dissolution and a significant increase in shell Mg content. Unless CO 2 emissions are reduced and conservation measures taken, our results suggest these reefs are in danger of extinction within this century, with significant ecological and socioeconomic ramifications for coastal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4189
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Authors would like to thank Daniela Varrica and Franco Furnari for XRD analyses, Francesco Parello, Mariagrazia Graziano, Andrea Savona, Annamaria Longo and Federico Quattrocchi for helping in a multitude of ways. This work contributes to the EU-FP7 MedSeA project (grant agreement no. 265103) and to the MIUR-PRIN 2010–2011 (project no. 2010Z8HJ5M_010), with additional funding to M.M. from the Assemble project (EU-FP7) and to J.M.H.-S. from Save Our Seas Foundation. The data are available through the PANGAEA data repository.


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