California mussels: 1st warming casualty?

Posted on EPOCA: 19 Jul 2011


California mussels. Photo by Jackie Sones, Bodega Marine Laboratory.

The iconic California mussel could be among the first casualties of oceans made more acidic by global warming, a new study of the coastal shellfish shows.

Scientists who grew mussel larvae in a bath of acidified water thought to match expected changes in ocean chemistry report thinner, weaker shells and smaller bodies in a newly published study.

“We’re interested in the California mussel because it is an ecologically critical species, familiar to many of us who live along the West Coast,” said Brian Gaylord, evolution and ecology professor at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory. “It provides habitat, refuge, and provides food for over 300 other species.”

But increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that climate scientists attribute to human activity are already showing signs of working their way into the oceans.

Pat Brennan, The Orange County Register, 18 July 2011. Full article.