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Ecol Lett. 2011 Nov;14(11):1143-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01683.x. Epub 2011 Sep 21.

Putting prey and predator into the CO2 equation--qualitative and quantitative effects of ocean acidification on predator-prey interactions.

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1
Department of Biomedical Sciences, WCVM, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada. maud.ferrari@usask.ca

Abstract

Little is known about the impact of ocean acidification on predator-prey dynamics. Herein, we examined the effect of carbon dioxide (CO(2)) on both prey and predator by letting one predatory reef fish interact for 24 h with eight small or large juvenile damselfishes from four congeneric species. Both prey and predator were exposed to control or elevated levels of CO(2). Mortality rate and predator selectivity were compared across CO(2) treatments, prey size and species. Small juveniles of all species sustained greater mortality at high CO(2) levels, while large recruits were not affected. For large prey, the pattern of prey selectivity by predators was reversed under elevated CO(2). Our results demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative consumptive effects of CO(2) on small and larger damselfish recruits respectively, resulting from CO(2)-induced behavioural changes likely mediated by impaired neurological function. This study highlights the complexity of predicting the effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.

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