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Marine macroinvertebrates are ideal sentinel organisms to monitor rapid environmental changes associated with climatic phenomena. These organisms build up protective exoskeletons incrementally by biologically-controlled mineralization, which is deeply rooted in long-term evolutionary processes. Recent studies relating potential rapid environmental fluctuations to climate change, such as ocean acidification, suggest modifications on carbonate biominerals of marine invertebrates. However, the influence of known, and recurrent, climatic events on these biological processes during active mineralization is still insufficiently understood. Analysis of Peruvian cockles from the 1982–83 large magnitude El Nin˜o event shows significant alterations of the chemico-structure of carbonate biominerals. Here, we show that bivalves modify the main biomineralization mechanism during the event to continue shell secretion. As a result, magnesium content increases to stabilize amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC), inducing a rise in Mg/Ca unrelated to the associated increase in sea-surface temperature. Analysis of variations in Sr/Ca also suggests that this proxy should not be used in these bivalves to detect the temperature anomaly, while Ba/Ca peaks are recorded in shells in response to an increase in productivity, or dissolved barium in seawater, after the event. Presented data contribute to a better understanding of the effects of abrupt climate change on shell biomineralization, while also offering an alternative view of bivalve elemental proxy reconstructions.Furthermore, biomineralization changes in mollusk shells can be used as a novel potential proxy to provide a more nuanced historical record of El Nin˜o and similar rapid environmental change events.
Pe´rez-Huerta, Alberto; Etayo-Cadavid, Miguel F.; Andrus, C Fred T.; Jeffries, Teresa E.; Watkins, Clifton; Street, Shane C.; and Sandweiss, Daniel H., "El Nin˜o Impact on Mollusk Biomineralization: Implications for Trace Element Proxy Reconstructions and the Paleo-Archeological Record" (2013). Anthropology Faculty Scholarship. 9.
Pérez-Huerta A, Etayo-Cadavid MF, Andrus CFT, Jeffries TE, Watkins C, et al. (2013) El Niño Impact on Mollusk Biomineralization–Implications for Trace Element Proxy Reconstructions and the Paleo-Archeological Record. PLoS ONE 8(2): e54274. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054274
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