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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 3;8(7):e68643. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068643. Print 2013.

Ocean acidification disrupts prey responses to predator cues but not net prey shell growth in Concholepas concholepas (loco).

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Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Limnológicas, Laboratorio de Ecología y Conducta de la Ontogenia Temprana and Laboratorio Costero de Recursos Acuáticos de Calfuco. Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2013;8(7). doi: 10.1371/annotation/f3961ccc-a7e2-442e-9227-ed0bb687450b.



Most research on Ocean Acidification (OA) has largely focused on the process of calcification and the physiological trade-offs employed by calcifying organisms to support the building of calcium carbonate structures. However, there is growing evidence that OA can also impact upon other key biological processes such as survival, growth and behaviour. On wave-swept rocky shores the ability of gastropods to self-right after dislodgement, and rapidly return to normal orientation, reduces the risk of predation.


The impacts of OA on this self-righting behaviour and other important parameters such as growth, survival, shell dissolution and shell deposition in Concholepas concholepas (loco) were investigated under contrasting pCO2 levels. Although no impacts of OA on either growth or net shell calcification were found, the results did show that OA can significantly affect self-righting behaviour during the early ontogeny of this species with significantly faster righting times recorded for individuals of C. concholepas reared under increased average pCO2 concentrations (± SE) (716 ± 12 and 1036 ± 14 µatm CO2) compared to those reared at concentrations equivalent to those presently found in the surface ocean (388 ± 8 µatm CO2). When loco were also exposed to the predatory crab Acanthocyclus hassleri, righting times were again increased by exposure to elevated CO2, although self-righting times were generally twice as fast as those observed in the absence of the crab.


These results suggest that self-righting in the early ontogeny of C. concholepas will be positively affected by pCO2 levels expected by the end of the 21st century and beginning of the next one. However, as the rate of self-righting is an adaptive trait evolved to reduce lethal predatory attacks, our result also suggest that OA may disrupt prey responses to predators in nature.

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