Meeting Abstract

90-1  Saturday, Jan. 6 10:00 - 10:15  Anthropogenic impacts on the morphology and ecology of venomous marine gastropod species Californiconus californicus UL-HASAN, S*; MALLOY, ME; HOFMEISTER, JK; SISTROM, MJ; University of California, Merced, Merced, CA; University of California, Merced, Merced, CA; Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA; University of California, Merced, Merced, CA

The California cone snail population range, species Californiconus californicus, falls within two marine ecoregions increasingly subject to negative anthropogenic impacts over the past century. Despite its trophic significance as a top marine invertebrate predator and extreme generalist, surprisingly little is known about C. californicus ecology. We measured the length, width, aperture width, and thickness of over 1800 adult C. californicus shells from historical collections and compared transect data between Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and non-MPAs to (1) determine if human recreation and urbanization is negatively correlated with C. californicus population density and (2) create an ecological niche model conscious of the Anthropocene. Our current analyses demonstrate statistically less C. californicus in non-MPAs compared to MPAs, with deeper analyses of biotic and abiotic influences underway. We also see C. californicus shell morphology follows Bergmann’s rule, contingent with findings for species within the same range. Several previous studies in the scientific community have shown variation in marine gastropod shell morphology to be associated with adaptation. These findings give us reason to hypothesize C. californicus shell morphology responds to rising, anthropogenic-induced temperatures by decreasing shell thickness and forming more narrow spires to release excess heat. The results from this work will serve as a reference for others conducting research in the California-Baja intertidal and subtidal zones, and emphasize the importance of maintaining species distribution models for experimental and conservation purposes.