Owing to its extraordinary lifespan and wide geographical distribution along the continental margins of the North Atlantic Ocean, the ocean quahog Arcitca islandica may become an important indicator species in environmental change research. To test for applicability and “calibrate” the Arctica-indicator, metabolic properties of A. islandica specimens were compared across different climatic and oceanographic regions. Fully saline populations from Iceland to the North Sea as well as animals from polyhaline and low salinity, environments, the White Sea and the Baltic were included in the study. This calibration centrally includes recordings of growth-age relationships in different populations. Shells were used as age recorders by counting annual growth bands. As a result of this study, we propose a general respiration model that links individual metabolic rates of A. islandica from five populations: Norwegian coast, Kattegat, Kiel Bay (Baltic Sea), White Sea and German Bight (North Sea), to body mass, water temperature and site. Temperature exerts distinct site specific effects on respiration rate, which is indicated by Q10 values ranging from 4.48 for German Bight to 1.15 for Kiel Bay animals. Individual age, occurrence of apneal respiratory gaps, parasite infestation and salinity do not affect respiration rate. Respiration of Arctica islandica is significantly below the average of 59 bivalve species when compared at the same temperature and animal mass. This respiration model principally enables the coupling of A. islandica life history and population dynamics to regional oceanographic temperature models.
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Vol. 28 • No. 3