Susceptibility of two co-existing mytilid species to simulated predation under projected climate change conditions.
Properties of the shells and byssus filaments secreted by marine mussels are affected by environmental and biotic factors. In this study, we investigated the effects of pH and temperature on shell and byssus in artificially created monospecific and mixed aggregations of the indigenous mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the invasive mussel Xenostrobus securis. The variability in the response of the mussels was mainly explained by species-specific interactions derived from the type of aggregation. In the mixed groups, acidic conditions caused a decrease in byssus strength in M. galloprovincialis, but an increase in byssus strength in X. securis. Increased temperature positively affected shell strength in X. securis, but only in mixed aggregations. Interactive effects of acidification and warming were only detected in the organic matter of shells, the strength of which decreased in M. galloprovincialis in mixed aggregations. Although the invasive mussel may be able to take advantage of changed conditions by enhancing byssal attachment, the effects that acidification has on shells may make this species more vulnerable to some predators. The study findings provide some insight into the responses of protective and attachment structures of mussels to biotic and abiotic stressors, highlighting how species interactions may shape the future of mytilid populations.