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Shifting Species Interactions Under Climate Change

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Joshua LordBenthic Ecology Lab, MBARI

Global warming and ocean acidification are expected to cause shifts in community composition, though most research has focused on responses of individual species. The response of natural assemblages or communities, driven by the direct effects of ocean change on individual species as well the cascade of indirect effects, has received far less study. We test direct and indirect effects of climate change on interactions between rocky intertidal species including crabs (green crab Carcinus maenas and lined shore crab Pachygrapsus crassipes), whelks (Nucella ostrina, Nucella lapillus, Urosalpinx cinerea), red abalone (Haliotis rufescens), and mussels (Mytilus spp.). It is especially important to incorporate multi-species experiments into climate-related predictions for species with strong interactions (e.g. competition, predation). By using computer-controlled pH manipulation (via CO2) we are able to conduct several month long growth experiments which can provide insight into the way that species respond to climate change in a community context. Also, see Josh’s work with invasive species and citizen science.