Multidecadal signals within co-occurring intertidal barnacles Semibalanus balanoides and Chthamalus spp. linked to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

N. Mieszkowska, M.T. Burrows, F.G. Pannacciulli, S.J. Hawkins


Few links have been established between the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and long-term dynamics of marine systems due to the scarcity of sustained biological time-series with sufficient multi-decadal coverage. The abundances of co-occurring boreal and Lusitanian species of barnacle have been recorded annually at a rocky shore in Devon, southwest England since 1953. Multidecadal cycles in relative abundances of the cold-water Semibalanus balanoides and warm-water Chthamalus spp. are strongly correlated with both local sea surface temperatures, and a Warm Indexof barnacle abundance shows strong links to the basin-scale Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. In contrast there are weak or no observed relationships with the North Atlantic Oscillation for either species. The shorter lifecycle of S. balanoides compared to the chthamalids and the increase in spring and summer temperatures to which newly settled S. balanoides recruits have been exposed during the last decade are likely mechanisms by which barnacle densities are responding to low-frequency temperature variability expressed in the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.