Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 5, pp 985–993 | Cite as

Thermotolerance and heat-shock protein expression in Northeastern Pacific Nucella species with different biogeographical ranges

  • Cascade J. B. Sorte
  • Gretchen E. HofmannEmail author
Research Article


We investigated physiological traits responsible for determining the tide-height and latitudinal distributions of Northeastern Pacific Nucella congeners. First, we determined the thermotolerances of two species of intertidal dogwhelks, N. ostrina and N. canaliculata, which co-occur on the Oregon coast. We found that N. ostrina, which are distributed higher on the shore, and thus experience higher habitat temperatures, than N. canaliculata, had correspondingly higher heat-coma temperatures. Second, we acclimated individuals of all five Northeastern Pacific Nucella congeners to a common temperature and determined their thermotolerances, measured as recovery from thermal exposure, after a 5-day, 3-week, and 7-week acclimation period. The south-latitude (N. emarginata) and mid-latitude (N. ostrina) high-intertidal species were more thermotolerant than the mid-latitude low-intertidal (N. canaliculata and N. lamellosa) and north-latitude high-intertidal (N. lima) species. The results of these two experiments suggest that temperature plays a role in determining the tide-height and latitudinal distributions of these Nucella species. Finally, we measured total and inducible levels of an evolutionarily conserved and ecologically relevant protein, the 70-kDa heat-shock protein (Hsp70), which has been found to confer thermotolerance in model laboratory organisms. The results showed that the level of total, not stress inducible, Hsp70 was a better predictor of thermotolerance and that there were species-specific differences in the relationship between Hsp70 expression and thermotolerance. We suggest that Hsp70 expression may be important in conferring thermotolerance in Nucella species in nature and that higher levels of molecular chaperones may underlie increased thermotolerance between conspecifics.


Thermal Exposure Hsp70 Level Tide Height Latitudinal Distribution Oregon Coast 
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We would like to thank our Alaskan collectors, A. Baldwin and M. Ahlgren, for supplying us with Nucella lima and S. Sorte for help in the field. Members of the Lubchenco-Menge Lab (OSU) and Foltz Lab (UCSB) generously provided equipment and lab space. J. Burnaford, K. Foltz, S. Gaines, P. Halpin, B. Helmuth, B. Menge, E. Sanford, and members of the Hofmann Lab (UCSB) gave helpful comments on the research and manuscript. This study would not have been possible without M. Bracken’s help with fieldwork, statistical savvy, and insightful comments. This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid of Research from Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society to C.J.B.S., National Science Foundation grant IBN0097100 to G.E.H., and support from Susan and Bruce Worster to G.E.H. as the Worster Scholar at UCSB. The described experiments and specimen collections comply with the current laws of the United States of America and the regulations of the California Department of Fish and Game.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and the Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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