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Keywords:

  • climate change;
  • mussels;
  • Mytilus;
  • organismal responses;
  • temperature

Abstract

An increasing body of research has demonstrated the often idiosyncratic responses of organisms to climate-related factors, such as increases in air, sea and land surface temperatures, especially when coupled with non-climatic stressors. This argues that sweeping generalizations about the likely impacts of climate change on organisms and ecosystems are likely less valuable than process-based explorations that focus on key species and ecosystems. Mussels in the genus Mytilus have been studied for centuries, and much is known of their physiology and ecology. Like other intertidal organisms, these animals may serve as early indicators of climate change impacts. As structuring species, their survival has cascading impacts on many other species, making them ecologically important, in addition to their economic value as a food source. Here, we briefly review the categories of information available on the effects of temperature change on mussels within this genus. Although a considerable body of information exists about the genus in general, knowledge gaps still exist, specifically in our ability to predict how specific populations are likely to respond to the effects of multiple stressors, both climate and non-climate related, and how these changes are likely to result in ecosystem-level responses. Whereas this genus provides an excellent model for exploring the effects of climate change on natural and human-managed ecosystems, much work remains if we are to make predictions of likely impacts of environmental change on scales that are relevant to climate adaptation.