Sex-specific temperature dependence of foraging and growth of intertidal snails
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- Vaughn, D., Turnross, O.R. & Carrington, E. Mar Biol (2014) 161: 75. doi:10.1007/s00227-013-2316-3
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Predicting the biological impacts of climate change requires an understanding of how temperature alters organismal physiology and behavior. Given differences in reproductive physiology between sexes, increases in global temperature may be experienced differently by the males and females of a species. This study tested for sex-specific effects of increased air temperature on foraging, growth, and survival of an intertidal snail, Nucella ostrina (San Juan Island, Washington, 48–30′44″N, 123–08′43″W). Snails exhibited periodic peaks in foraging. Subjecting snails to elevated low tide air temperatures did not alter the timing or magnitude of this pattern. Despite similar temporal patterns in foraging, females foraged more than males, even when the risk of thermal stress was high. While males and females appear to have a similar body temperature threshold for optimal growth, females were more likely to cross that threshold resulting in a loss of body mass when exposed to daily increases in air temperature. These results suggest that the consequences of a warming climate in the short term may be different for males and females of N. ostrina, but also imply longer-term costs of reduced reproductive output, abundance, and distribution of this ubiquitous intertidal predator. Generally, this study points to the possible significance of sex-specific responses in an increasingly warm world.