Articles | Volume 5, issue 5
05 Sep 2008
 | 05 Sep 2008

Inter- and intra-specimen variability masks reliable temperature control on shell Mg/Ca ratios in laboratory- and field-cultured Mytilus edulis and Pecten maximus (bivalvia)

P. S. Freitas, L. J. Clarke, H. A. Kennedy, and C. A. Richardson

Abstract. The Mg/Ca ratios of biogenic calcite is commonly seen as a valuable palaeo-proxy for reconstructing past ocean temperatures. The temperature dependence of Mg/Ca ratios in bivalve calcite has been the subject of contradictory observations. The palaeoceanographic use of a geochemical proxy is dependent on initial, rigorous calibration and validation of relationships between the proxy and the ambient environmental variable to be reconstructed. Shell Mg/Ca ratio data are reported for the calcite of two bivalve species, Mytilus edulis (common mussel) and Pecten maximus (king scallop), which were grown in laboratory culturing experiments at controlled and constant aquarium seawater temperatures over a range from ~10 to ~20°C. Furthermore, Mg/Ca ratio data of laboratory- and field-grown M. edulis specimens were compared. Only a weak, albeit significant, shell Mg/Ca ratio–temperature relationship was observed in the two bivalve species: M. edulis (r2=0.37, p<0.001 for laboratory-cultured specimens and r2=0.50, p<0.001 for field-cultured specimens) and P. maximus (r2=0.21, p<0.001 for laboratory-cultured specimens only). In the two species, shell Mg/Ca ratios were not found to be controlled by shell growth rate or salinity. The Mg/Ca ratios in the shells exhibited a large degree of variability among and within species and individuals. The results suggest that the use of bivalve calcite Mg/Ca ratios as a temperature proxy is limited, at least in the species studied to date. Such limitations are most likely due to the presence of physiological effects on Mg incorporation in bivalve calcite. The utilization is further limited by the great variability both within and among shells of the same species that were precipitated under the same ambient conditions.

Final-revised paper