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Marine encrusting communities play vital roles in benthic ecosystems and have major economic implications with regards to biofouling. However, their ability to persist under projected warming scenarios remains poorly understood and is difficult to study under realistic conditions. Here, using heated settlement panel technologies, we show that after 18 months Antarctic encrusting communities do not acclimate to either +1 °C or +2 °C above ambient temperatures. There is significant up-regulation of the cellular stress response in warmed animals, their upper lethal temperatures decline with increasing ambient temperature and population genetic analyses show little evidence of differential survival of genotypes with treatment. By contrast, biofilm bacterial communities show no significant differences in community structure with temperature. Thus, metazoan and bacterial responses differ dramatically, suggesting that ecosystem responses to future climate change are likely to be far more complex than previously anticipated.
Clark, M.S., Villota Nieva, L., Hoffman, J.I. et al. Lack of long-term acclimation in Antarctic encrusting species suggests vulnerability to warming. Nat Commun 10, 3383 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11348-w
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