Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 9, pp 2051–2059 | Cite as

Poor acclimation capacities in Antarctic marine ectotherms

  • Lloyd S. Peck
  • Simon A. Morley
  • Melody S. Clark
Original Paper


Animals can respond to temperature change by the following means: using physiological flexibility (including acclimation); or adapting; or migrating, with acclimation proposed as the major mechanism dictating prospects for survival in marine groups. In this study, 6 species of Antarctic invertebrate covering 4 phyla, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Brachiopoda and Crustacea were subjected to acclimation trials at 3°C for 60 days. Using acute upper lethal temperatures as a metric of ability to acclimate, only one species (Marseniopsis mollis) increased its acute upper limit. Furthermore, analysis of oxygen consumption on the urchin Sterechinus neumayeri and the amphipod Paraceradocus gibber showed their metabolic rates were also not compensated over the 60-day exposure period. Thus, 5 out of 6 species failed to acclimate to temperatures only 3.5°C above the annual average and 1–2°C above current summer maximum values. We discuss the proposal that the abilities of Antarctic marine species to adjust to elevated environmental temperatures are as limited, if not more so, than tropical species.


Oxygen Consumption Lethal Temperature Antarctic Species Acclimation Capacity Acute Temperature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the staff of the Rothera Research station for their support in animal collection and maintenance, and this is especially so for the dive officers and marine assistants who were involved. This research was funded by NERC core funding to the British Antarctic Survey BIOFLAME programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lloyd S. Peck
    • 1
  • Simon A. Morley
    • 1
  • Melody S. Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research CouncilCambridgeUK

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