Climate change and species interaction in marine benthos: an integrated experimental study.

Esther Cepeda

The ecosystem ocean conditions are changing due to climate change. Not only the species, but their interactions are being modified, altering the ecosystem functioning. This study focuses on how the relationship between the meiobenthos community and Lanice conchilega, an ecosystem engineering polychaete, will be affected by ocean warming and acidification. A fully crossed experiment was performed, with a change in water temperature (22.34 ºC and 19.82 ºC), pH (8.12 and 7.76), and the presence or absence of L. conchilega. Results suggested an alteration in L. conchilega behaviour due to elevated temperature, which had repercussions for the Nematoda community potentially due to a higher competition for food resources. The vertical distribution of Copepoda and Nauplii was ligated to oxygen availability, in which the bio-irrigation activity of L. conchilega plays an important role. Furthermore, the use of pressure sensors was validated, as a technique to detect the behavioural activity of L. conchilega within the sediment. This knowledge will allow future experiments, to identify the behavioural activity of L. conchilega with respect to the meiobenthos community response, under a climate changing scenario.