Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 2, pp 395–409 | Cite as

Thermal tolerance of early development in tropical and temperate sea urchins: inferences for the tropicalization of eastern Australia

  • Natasha A. Hardy
  • Miles Lamare
  • Sven Uthicke
  • Kennedy Wolfe
  • Steve Doo
  • Symon Dworjanyn
  • Maria Byrne
Original Paper


The thermal envelope of development to the larval stage of two echinoids from eastern Australia was characterized to determine whether they fill their potential latitudinal ranges as indicated by tolerance limits. The tropical sand dollar, Arachnoides placenta, a species that is not known to have shifted its range, was investigated in Townsville, northern Australia (19°20′S, 146°77′E), during its autumn spawning season (May 2012). The subtropical/temperate sea urchin, Centrostephanus rodgersii, a species that has undergone poleward range expansion, was investigated in Sydney, southern Australia (33°58′S, 151°14′E), during its winter spawning season (August 2012). The thermal tolerance of development was determined in embryos and larvae reared at twelve temperatures. For A. placenta, the ambient water temperature near Townsville and experimental control were 24 °C and treatments ranged from 14 to 37 °C. For C. rodgersii, ambient Sydney water temperature and experimental control were 17 °C, and the treatment range was 9–31 °C. A. placenta had a broader developmental thermal envelope (14 °C range 17–31 °C) than C. rodgersii (9 °C range 13–22 °C). Both species developed successfully at temperatures well below ambient, suggesting that cooler water is not a barrier to poleward migration for either species. Both species presently live near the upper thermal limits for larval development, and future ocean warming could lead to contractions of their northern range limits. This study provides insights into the factors influencing the realized and potential distribution of planktonic life stages and changes to adult distribution in response to global change.


Thermal Tolerance Ocean Warming Sand Dollar East Australian Current Warm Treatment 
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.



This work was supported by grants from the Australian Research Council (MB and SAD). We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Michelle Liddy (AIMS). Dr Alistair Hobday, CSIRO Marine Laboratories, Hobart, is thanked for assistance with CARS data extraction and generation of isotherm maps. Echinoderms were collected under permit licenses from the New South Wales Department of Industry and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Supplementary material

227_2013_2344_MOESM1_ESM.doc (3.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 3317 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natasha A. Hardy
    • 1
  • Miles Lamare
    • 2
  • Sven Uthicke
    • 3
  • Kennedy Wolfe
    • 1
    • 4
  • Steve Doo
    • 1
    • 4
  • Symon Dworjanyn
    • 5
  • Maria Byrne
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Medical SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.National Marine Science CentreSouthern Cross UniversityCoffs HarbourAustralia

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