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Keywords:

  • benthic development;
  • carry-over effects;
  • gastropod;
  • intertidal;
  • invertebrate larvae;
  • temperature;
  • UVB

Abstract

Damaging effects of UVB in conjunction with other stressors associated with global change are well-established, with many studies focused on vulnerable early life stages and immediate effects (e.g., mortality, developmental abnormalities). However, for organisms with complex life cycles, experiences at one life stage can have carry-over effects on later life stages, such that sublethal effects may mediate later vulnerability to further stress. Here, we exposed embryos in benthic egg masses of the New Zealand intertidal gastropod Siphonaria australis to treatments of either periodic stress (e.g., elevated UVB, salinity, and water temperature mimicking tidepool conditions in which egg masses are commonly found during summer) or control conditions (low UVB, ambient salinity, and water temperatures). Although there was high mortality from stressed egg masses, 24% of larvae hatched successfully. We then exposed the hatching larvae from both egg mass treatments to different combinations of water temperature (15 or 20 °C) and light (high UVB or shade) 12 h per day for 10 days. The most stressful larval conditions of 20 °C/high UVB resulted in low survival and stunted growth. Carry-over effects on survival were apparent for shaded larvae exposed to elevated temperature, where those from stressed egg masses had 1.8× higher mortality than those from control egg masses. Shaded larvae were also larger and had longer velar cilia if they were from control egg masses, independent of larval temperature. These results demonstrate that previous experience of environmental stress can influence vulnerability of later life stages to further stress, and that focus on a single life stage will underestimate cumulative effects of agents of global change.