, Volume 160, Issue 9, pp 2525-2530
Date: 01 May 2013

Behaviour moderates climate warming vulnerability in high-rocky-shore snails: interactions of habitat use, energy consumption and environmental temperature

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Abstract

High-rocky-shore intertidal animals are predicted to be generally more vulnerable to climate warming than lower-shore species, because their thermal tolerances lie closer to maximum environmental temperatures (T e). However, this prediction is based on taxonomically and ecologically limited information. The present study investigated the effect of habitat use on climate warming vulnerability of the tropical high-shore snail, Echinolittorina malaccana (from Brunei Darussalam, 5°N), which aestivates in sun-exposed or shaded habitats. The thermal regimes of these habitats differed vastly, but snails showed similar daily energy consumption in either habitat, due to temperature-insensitive metabolism (TIM) between 35 and 46 °C in the sun-resting snails. However, maximum T e values in the shade and the sun were 35 and 46 °C, respectively, suggesting that sun-resting snails, which presently experience temperatures near the incipient lethal temperature range (46–56 °C), should be more threatened by further warming than shade-resting snails, which have an 11 °C ‘safety margin’. Thus, vulnerability of high-shore species to climate warming could be moderated by availability of shaded habitat, making predictions for these species more complex than previously realized.

Communicated by F. Bulleri.