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A phenological shift in the time of recruitment of the shipworm, Teredo navalis L., mirrors marine climate change

Journal article
Authors Christin Appelqvist
Jonathan N. Havenhand
Published in Ecology and Evolution
Volume 6
Issue 12
Pages 3862-3870
ISSN 2045-7758
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory
Pages 3862-3870
Language en
Keywords Marine borer, phenology, sea surface temperature, teredinidae, warming, larval development, biogeography, zooplankton, terrestrial, ecosystems, migration, responses, fishes, growth, birds, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


For many species, seasonal changes in key environmental variables such as food availability, light, and temperature drive the timing ("phenology") of major life-history events. Extensive evidence from terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats shows that global warming is changing the timings of many biological events; however, few of these studies have investigated the effects of climate change on the phenology of larval recruitment in marine invertebrates. Here, we studied temperature-related phenological shifts in the breeding season of the shipworm Teredo navalis (Mollusca, Bivalvia). We compared data for the recruitment period of T. navalis along the Swedish west coast during 20042006 with similar data from 1971-1973, and related differences in recruitment timing to changes in sea surface temperature over the same period. We found no significant shift in the timing of onset of recruitment over this similar to 30-year time span, but the end of recruitment was an average of 26 days later in recent years, leading to significantly longer recruitment periods. These changes correlated strongly with increased sea surface temperatures and coincided with published thermal tolerances for reproduction in T. navalis. Our findings are broadly comparable with other reports of phenological shifts in marine species, and suggest that warmer sea surface temperatures are increasing the likelihood of successful subannual reproduction and intensifying recruitment of T. navalis in this region.

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