Annual growth increments formed in bivalve shells are increasingly used as proxies of environmental variability and change in marine ecosystems, especially at higher latitudes. Here, we document that well-replicated and exactly dated chronologies can also be developed to capture oceanographic processes in temperate and semi-enclosed seas, such as the Mediterranean. A chronology is constructed for Glycymeris pilosa from a shallow embayment of the northern Adriatic and extends from 1979 to 2016. The chronology significantly (p < 0.05) and positively correlates to winter sea surface temperatures, but negatively correlates to summer temperatures, which suggests that extreme winter lows and extreme summer highs may be limiting to growth. However, the strongest and most consistent relationships are negative correlations with an index of the Adriatic-Ionian Bimodal Oscillating System (BiOS) for which positive values indicate the inflow of the ultraoligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean waters to the Adriatic. In contrast, the substantial freshwater flows that discharge into the Adriatic do not correlate to the bivalve chronology, emphasizing the importance of remote oceanographic processes to growth at this highly coastal site. Overall, this study underscores the potential of bivalve chronologies to capture biologically relevant, local- to regional-scale patterns of ocean circulation in mid-latitude, temperate systems.
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