Light-dependent calcification in Red Sea giant clam Tridacna maxima

Susann Rossbach, Vincent Saderne, Andrea Anton Gamazo, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Tropical giant clams of the subfamily Tridacninae, including the species Tridacna maxima, are unique among bivalves as they live in a symbiotic relationship with unicellular algae and generally function as net photoautotrophs. Light is therefore crucial for these species to thrive. Here we examine the light dependency of calcification rates of T. maxima in the central Red Sea as well as the patterns of its abundance with depth in the field. Red Sea T. maxima show the highest densities at a depth of 3 m with 0:82 ± 0:21 and 0:11±0:03 individuals m-2 (mean ± SE) at sheltered and exposed sites, respectively. Experimental assessment of net calcification (μmol CaCO3 cm-2 h-1) and gross primary production (μmol O2 cm-2 h-1) under seven light levels (1061, 959, 561, 530, 358, 244, and 197 μmol quanta m-2 s-1) showed net calcification rates to be significantly enhanced under light intensities corresponding to a water depth of 4 m (0:65 ± 0:03 μmol CaCO3 cm-2 h-1; mean ± SE), while gross primary production was 2:06±0:24 μmol O2 cm-2 h-1 (mean ± SE). We found a quadratic relationship between net calcification and tissue dry mass (DM in gram), with clams of an intermediate size (about 15 g DM) showing the highest calcification. Our results show that the Red Sea giant clam T. maxima stands out among bivalves as a remarkable calcifier, displaying calcification rates comparable to other tropical photosymbiotic reef organisms such as corals.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2635-2650
Number of pages16
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 9 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Acknowledgements: We thank Janna Leigh Randle and Felix Ivo Rossbach for assistance with field sampling and the KAUST Coastal and Marine Resources Core Lab for logistical support.


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