Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 471–493 | Cite as

Is cold hardiness size-constrained? A comparative approach in land snails

  • Armelle AnsartEmail author
  • Annie Guiller
  • Olivier Moine
  • Marie-Claire Martin
  • Luc Madec
Original Paper


Body water is a major element of the cold-hardiness strategies observed in ectothermic animals, in particular in freezing avoidant species for which body ice formation is lethal. Here, we investigate the relationships, in terrestrial snails, between the temperature of crystallisation (Tc) and body water (water mass and water content), shell shape, geographic and climatic distribution, taking into account phylogenetic inertia. Phylogenetic relationships among 31 species from 13 different families of terrestrial Gastropods were studied using 28S rRNA nuclear and COI mitochondrial sequence data, together with species-specific traits. Our results provide evidence for clear relationships between Tc and absolute/relative body water: smaller species with lower water content tended to be characterized by colder temperatures of crystallisation, although some exceptions were noticeable. Environmental conditions do not appear to affect Tc significantly, as well as shell shape which is however correlated with water content. This study confirmed that supercooling ability in land snails is size-constrained, with consequences on cold-hardiness strategies.


Terrestrial gastropods Temperature of crystallisation Body water Phylogenetic relationships PGLS 



We are thankful to Nicole Limondin-Lozouet and Olivier Gargominy for their help in species identification, to Yann Rantier for extraction of geographic information on species, to Philippe Vernon and anonymous referees for constructive comments and to all the people who collected snails for this study purpose, in particular Annegret Nicolai, Mathieu Daëron and Thomas Geslin. This work benefited from the ATBI (All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory) Mercantour program and was partly supported by MAPGEO project, funded by the INSU/INEE PALEO2 program of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armelle Ansart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Annie Guiller
    • 2
  • Olivier Moine
    • 3
  • Marie-Claire Martin
    • 1
  • Luc Madec
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR 6553 EcobioUniversité de Rennes 1Rennes CedexFrance
  2. 2.UMR 6553 Ecobio, Laboratoire de Parasitologie PharmaceutiqueUniversité de Rennes 1Rennes CedexFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Géographie PhysiqueUMR CNRS 8591Meudon CedexFrance

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