Climate variation during the Holocene influenced the skeletal properties of Chamelea gallina shells in the North Adriatic Sea (Italy)

Alessandro Cheli, Arianna Mancuso, Michele Azzarone, Simona Fermani, Jaap Kaandorp, Frederic Marin, Devis Montroni, Iryna Polishchuk, Fiorella Prada, Marco Stagioni, Giovanni Valdré, Boaz Pokroy, Giuseppe Falini, Stefano Goffredo, Daniele Scarponi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding how marine taxa will respond to near-future climate changes is one of the main challenges for management of coastal ecosystem services. Ecological studies that investigate relationships between the environment and shell properties of commercially important marine species are commonly restricted to latitudinal gradients or small-scale laboratory experiments. This paper aimed to explore the variations in shell features and growth of the edible bivalve Chamelea gallina from the Holocene sedimentary succession to present-day thanatocoenosis of the Po Plain-Adriatic Sea system (Italy). Comparing the Holocene sub-fossil record to modern thanatocoenoses allowed obtaining an insight of shell variations dynamics on a millennial temporal scale. Five shoreface-related assemblages rich in C. gallina were considered: two from the Middle Holocene, when regional sea surface temperatures were higher than today, representing a possible analogue for the near-future global warming, one from the Late Holocene and two from the present-day. We investigated shell biometry and skeletal properties in relation to the valve length of C. gallina. Juveniles were found to be more porous than adults in all horizons. This suggested that C. gallina promoted an accelerated shell accretion with a higher porosity and lower density at the expense of mechanically fragile shells. A positive correlation between sea surface temperature and both micro-density and bulk density were found, with modern specimens being less dense, likely due to lower aragonite saturation state at lower temperature, which could ultimately increase the energetic costs of shell formation. Since no variation was observed in shell CaCO3 polymorphism (100% aragonite) or in compositional parameters among the analyzed horizons, the observed dynamics in skeletal parameters are likely not driven by a diagenetic recrystallization of the shell mineral phase. This study contributes to understand the response of C. gallina to climate-driven environmental shifts and offers insights for assessing anthropogenic impacts on this economic relevant species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0247590
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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