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Seasonal changes of ambient environment reflected in Glycymeris shells from the Iberian Shelf

The aim of our study was to investigate the driving factors for shell growth in G. glycymeris bivalves by analysing the growth patterns and stable oxygen and carbon isotope compositions of shells collected from the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

An increment chronology, covering the 1985-2001 period, was established from the shells and was used to explore longevity and growth responses to environmental parameters. The inter-annual fluctuation of increment widths displayed a positive correlation (r=0.49, p < 0.05) with the regional March sea surface temperature (SST), suggesting that at this collection site, late winter SST is limiting the growth of the studied bivalve species. Significant negative correlations were observed with precipitation (r=-0.69 p<0.05) and also with sea surface salinity (r=-0.59 p<0.05) in February associated with complex hydrological processes of the Iberian Shelf. Intensive regional precipitation in June seems to have a positive effect on shell growth.

Comparing sub-annually resolved oxygen isotope ratios from three specimens with overlapping lifespans (1984-1993) to satellite-derived temperature data proved that summer SST maxima were recorded within the shell carbonate, whereas annual minima are not reflected.

Our results imply that annual growth rates of G. glycymeris shells collected near Aveiro are affected by summer runoff events and late winter SSTs. The latter connection is more difficult to explain as Glycymeris shell growth usually slows down or ceases during this period. Late winter stages of Glycymeris reproduction may affect their sensitivity to late winter SSTs and may have possible consequences for the overall annual shell growth.


Alexandra Németh1, Zoltán Kern1
1Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
GeoBerlin 2023
Hungary (EU13)