27 Jul 2022
27 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Ultradian rhythms in shell composition of photosymbiotic and non-photosymbiotic mollusks

Niels J. de Winter1,2, Daniel Killam3, Lukas Fröhlich4, Lennart de Nooijer5, Wim Boer5, Bernd R. Schöne4, Julien Thébault6, and Gert-Jan Reichart2,5 Niels J. de Winter et al.
  • 1Analytical, Environmental and Geochemistry group (AMGC), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2Dept. of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 3San Francisco Estuary Institute, Richmond, CA, USA
  • 4Department of Paleontology, Institute of Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, Germany
  • 5Dept. of Ocean Systems, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Texel, the Netherlands
  • 6Univ Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, LEMAR, 29280 Plouzané, France

Abstract. The chemical composition of mollusk shells is a useful tool in (paleo)climatology since it captures inter- and intra-annual variability in environmental conditions. Trace element and stable isotope analyses with improved sampling resolution now enable the use of mollusk shells for paleoenvironmental reconstructions at a daily to sub-daily resolution. Here, we discuss hourly resolved Mg/Ca, Mn/Ca, Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca profiles measured by laser ablation ICP-MS through shells of photosymbiotic giant clams (Tridacna maxima, Tridacna squamosa and Tridacna squamosina) and the non-photosymbiotic scallop Pecten maximus. Precise sclerochronological age models and spectral analysis allowed us to extract daily and tidal rhythms in the trace element composition of these shells. We find significant expression of these periodicities but conclude that this cyclicity explains less than 10 % of the sub-annual variance in trace element profiles. Tidal and diurnal rhythms explain variability of at most 0.2 mmol/mol (~10 % of mean value) in Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca, while Mn/Ca and Ba/Ca cyclicity has a median amplitude of less than 2 µmol/mol (~40 % and 80 % of the mean of Mn/Ca and Ba/Ca, respectively). Daily periodicity in Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca is stronger in Tridacna than in Pecten, with Pecten showing stronger tidal periodicity. One T. squamosa specimen which grew under a sunshade exhibits some of the strongest diurnal cyclicity. Daily cycles in trace element composition of giant clams are therefore unlikely to be driven by variations in direct insolation itself but reflect an inherent biological rhythmic process affecting element incorporation. Finally, the large amount of trace element variability unexplained by periodic variability highlights the dominance of aperiodic processes in mollusk physiology and/or environmental conditions on shell composition at the sub-daily scale. Future studies should aim to investigate whether part of this aperiodic variability in shell chemistry reliably records weather patterns or circulation changes in the paleoenvironment.

Niels J. de Winter et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-576', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Oct 2022 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Niels de Winter, 09 Nov 2022 reply

Niels J. de Winter et al.

Data sets

TE_circadian Niels J. de Winter

Supplementary information for: "Ultradian rhythms in shell compositions of photosymbiotic and non-photosymbiotic mollusks" Niels J. de Winter, Daniel Killam, Lukas Fröhlich, Lennart de Nooijer, Wim Boer, Bernd R. Schöne, Julien Thébault, Gert-Jan Reichart

Niels J. de Winter et al.


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Short summary
Mollusk shells are valuable recorders of climate and environmental changes of the past down to a daily resolution. To explore this potential, we measured changes in the composition of shells of two types of bivalves recorded at the hourly scale: The king scallop Pecten maximus, and giant clams (Tridacna) that have engage in photosymbiosis. We find that photosymbiosis produces more day-night fluctuation in shell chemistry, but that most of the variation is not periodic, perhaps recording weather.