Impacts of Low Salinity on Growth and Calcification in Baltic Sea Mytilus edulis x trossulus

Trystan Sanders, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, Kiel, Germany and Frank Melzner, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany
The Baltic Sea is characterized by a steep salinity gradient (25 psu - <5 psu) which is predicted to increase in the future due to increased precipitation. This provides an excellent biological system to study the effects of salinity and inorganic carbon supply on animal physiology. Mytilus edulis x trossulus is adapted to the low saline Baltic Sea, at the cost of slow body growth and reduced shell thickness. The explanation for the small size of Baltic mytilids has been attributed to tradeoffs in energy partitioning due to high energetic costs associated with osmoregulation. However, salinity may effect calcification mechanisms and reduce calcification and thus, body size and growth. To understand the mechanistic effects salinity has on calcification, energy budgets were quantified in larvae, juveniles and adults from 3 populations of Baltic Sea Mytilus spp. at different salinities (6, 11 and 16 psu). Net CaCO3 production at varying salinities and bicarbonate concentrations was also measured. Larvae from low salinity adapted populations (6 psu) had a 3-fold higher respiration rate compared to higher salinity populations. This was also accompanied by a delay of 48 hours in early shell formation. Reductions in growth and increases in metabolism were largest between 11 psu and 6 psu indicating that the predicted desalination of the Baltic will go along with huge energetic costs for mussel populations, potentially leading to loss of reefs in the Eastern Baltic. To investigate the mechanisms behind increased metabolic cost and decreased allocation to growth, energy budgets are presently being constrained in our three populations using modulations in food supply and temperature.