Retention of high thermal tolerance in the invasive foraminifera Amphistegina lobifera from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aqaba
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Invasive species allow an investigation of trait retention and adaptations after exposure to new habitats. Recent work on corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (GoA) shows that tolerance to high temperature persists thousands of years after invasion, without any apparent adaptive advantage. Here, we test whether thermal tolerance retention also occurs in another symbiont-bearing calcifying organism. To this end, we investigate the thermal tolerance of the benthic foraminifera Amphistegina lobifera from the GoA (29°30.14167 N, 34°55.085E) and compare it to a recent “Lessepsian invader population” from the Eastern Mediterranean (EaM) (32°37.386 N, 34°55.169E). We first established that the studied populations are genetically homogenous but distinct from a population in Australia and that they contain a similar consortium of diatom symbionts, confirming their recent common descent. Thereafter, we exposed specimens from GoA and EaM to elevated temperatures for three weeks and monitored survivorship, growth rates and photophysiology. Both populations exhibited a similar pattern of temperature tolerance. A consistent reduction of photosynthetic dark yields was observed at 34 °C and reduced growth was observed at 32 °C. The apparent tolerance to sustained exposure to high temperature cannot have a direct adaptive importance, as peak summer temperatures in both locations remain <32 °C. Instead, it seems that in the studied foraminifera, tolerance to high temperature is a conservative trait and the EaM population retained this trait since its recent invasion. Such pre-adaptation to higher temperatures confers A. lobifera a clear adaptive advantage in shallow and episodically high temperature environments in the Mediterranean under further warming.
KeywordsForaminifera Benthic Foraminifera Thermal Tolerance Invasive Population Hermatypic Coral
This study was funded by the BMBF-MOST cooperation in Marine Sciences Grant No. 03F0639A, and the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, Israel Grant No. 212-17-015 to MK; BH. The molecular work in the paper was supported by a grant of the Paul Brönnimann Foundation given to RM, MK, CS.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors, CS, RM, MP, BH and MK, declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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