Scales of recruitment variability in warming waters: Comparing native and introduced oysters in Hood Canal, Washington, USA
The effect of climate change on natural oyster recruitment has the potential to disrupt many of the ecosystem services oysters provide. Due to the temperature-sensitivity of reproduction, oyster recruitment may shift as water temperatures rise. A biological imprint of climate change was revealed in a multi-decadal time series of recruitment of non-native Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) in the main stem of Hood Canal, Washington, USA, extracted from historic fishery documents. Water in July and August warmed significantly from 1945 to 1995 (0.028 ± 0.004°C per year [±SE]) and accounted for an increase in Pacific oyster recruitment (7% per year, 0.028 ± 0.006 spat per year on log scale [±SE]); recruitment also strongly tracked inter-annual variability in summer water temperature. Methods used to collect historical data were repeated in 2013–2015 when recruitment of both Pacific oysters and native Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) were recorded in main stem and lower Hood Canal. Both historic and modern data show large variation within and between years for temperature as well as recruitment. The modern data add information regarding spatial variation, in that recruitment patterns in the two regions of Hood Canal were decoupled. As temperatures continue to increase, non-native Pacific oysters are likely to be favored over Olympia oysters, which recruit earlier at lower temperatures and presently contribute less than half of total oyster recruits. Future recruitment, however, may be limited by environmental factors other than temperature, a point indicated particularly in Hood Canal where many subtidal species already respond strongly to gradients in dissolved oxygen.
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