, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 219-223

Temperature tolerance of the polychaete worms Diopatra cuprea and Clymenella torquata

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The resistance to high temperatures of two species of intertidal tube-dwelling polychaete worms has been tested to show seasonal and geographic variations. The summer 50% survival temperature at Beaufort, North Carolina, was 42.5 °C for Diopatra cuprea (Bosc) and 40.5 °C for Clymenella torquata (Leidy). Winter 50% survival temperatures for both species at Beaufort were approximately 4.0 C° lower. Both species showed a geographic difference in 50% survival temperature of more than 4.0 C° between North Carolina and Massachusetts in summer. D. cuprea from the Mississippi coast showed a lower survival temperature, probably due to combined temperature and salinity effects. Laboratory acclimation of C. torquata from Beaufort at low temperatures, during summer months, produced experimental results similar to those from winter animals. The seasonal differences in temperature tolerance are phenotypic expressions of a physiological response which can be related to environmental temperature patterns.

Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Cronulla