We evaluated the effect of contrasting pCO2 levels: lower (390 μatm), moderate (700 μatm) and extreme (1000 μatm), on the scope for growth of the keystone snail Concholepas concholepas over an exposure period of 6 months. Juvenile snails were collected from rocky intertidal habitats and acclimated for 5 months to those pCO2 levels. Subsequently, three groups of snails were randomly taken (n = 7 for each treatment) and reared for an additional 1 month for each of the three pCO2 levels. Physiological traits related with energy gain and energy expenditure were quantified. The scope for growth index decreased significantly with increases in pCO2, yielding negative values throughout the experimental period for the snails exposed to 1000 μatm pCO2, probably due to the extra energy required to maintain their metabolic functions in balance. This suggests that future climate change scenarios with elevated pCO2 levels could threaten the growth and other basic functions of juvenile snails of this species.
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