Marine Biology

, 163:23 | Cite as

Role of sequential low-tide-period conditions on the thermal physiology of summer and winter laboratory-acclimated fingered limpets, Lottia digitalis

  • Christina Pasparakis
  • Brittany E. Davis
  • Anne E. TodghamEmail author
Original paper


The rocky intertidal zone is among one of the most highly variable environments on Earth, with rapid and unpredictable changes in temperature on a daily basis. Numerous studies have investigated the thermal physiology of intertidal animals; however, few have focused on an organism’s capacity to withstand repeated heat stress during the emersion of low-tide periods and how previous exposures to sublethal increases in temperature may modulate the capacity to withstand severe heat stress. Lottia digitalis, a species of limpet ubiquitous along the Pacific coast of North America, were acclimated under ambient ocean conditions in the laboratory during the summer and winter months. Limpets were aerially exposed with or without preliminary heat exposures of varying magnitudes (15–35 °C for 2 h) the day before being challenged to a lethal temperature increase to investigate how sequential low-tide-period conditions affect upper thermal tolerance and temperature sensitivity. Limpets with a preliminary aerial exposure of 25–35 °C (summer) and 20 °C (winter) had greater upper critical thermal limits of cardiac performance as determined by final breakpoint temperature (~1.5–6 °C increase) and flatline temperature (~1–2 °C increase) than limpets with no previous exposure. The magnitude of temperature increase that conferred significant increases in thermal tolerance differed in summer and winter, reflecting seasonal differences in the thermal environment in nature. Fingered limpets’ upper thermal tolerance is plastic and likely modulated by the previous day’s low-tide exposure, demonstrating the importance of incorporating the repeated nature of stress into thermal physiology research in intertidal organisms.


Cardiac Performance Thermal Tolerance Thermal Physiology Intertidal Organism Severe Heat Stress 
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 would like to thank Dr. Jonathon Stillman for his helpful input in heart rate analysis and use of his heart rate setup as well as Dr. Lars Tomanek for his helpful discussions on the manuscript. We would also like to thank Dr. Nate Miller for his assistance with the GAMM analyses and Erin Flynn for help with the statistical analyses. This work was supported by San Francisco State University to AET, the University of California Agricultural Experiment Station (Grant Number CA-D-ASC-2252-H to A.E.T.), and a CSU Council on Oceans Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST) student scholarship to CP.

Supplementary material

227_2015_2779_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.5 mb)
Fig. S1 Examples of limpet heart rate traces during the Day 2, lethal temperature ramp from 13 to 48 °C at a rate of 6 °C h−1. Each panel portrays what a limpet trace might look like with 0 (panel 1), 1 (panel 2), 2 (panel 3), and 3 breaks (panel 4) in heart rate. Breaks in heart rate were defined as when heart rate decreased followed by an additional increase in activity. Summer laboratory-acclimated limpets had 1, 2, or 3 breaks in heart rate, while winter laboratory-acclimated limpets experienced 0, 1, and 2 breaks in heart rate (PDF 2598 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina Pasparakis
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brittany E. Davis
    • 3
  • Anne E. Todgham
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine Biology and FisheriesRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Animal ScienceUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

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