Compton, Tanya J., Rijkenberg, Micha J.A., Drent, Jan and Piersma, Theunis
Thermal tolerance ranges and climate variability: A comparison
between bivalves from differing climates
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 352, (1), . (doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2007.07.010).
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The climate variability hypothesis proposes that in variable temperate climates poikilothermic animals have wide thermal
tolerance windows, whereas in constant tropical climates they have small thermal tolerance windows. In this study we quantified
and compared the upper and lower lethal thermal tolerance limits of numerous bivalve species from a tropical (Roebuck Bay, north
western Australia) and a temperate (Wadden Sea, north western Europe) tidal flat. Species from tropical Roebuck Bay had higher
upper and lower lethal thermal limits than species from the temperate Wadden Sea, and Wadden Sea species showed an ability to
survive freezing temperatures. The increased freezing resistance of the Wadden Sea species resulted in thermal tolerance windows
that were on average 7 °C greater than the Roebuck Bay species. Furthermore, at a local-scale, the upper lethal thermal limits of the
Wadden Sea species were positively related to submersion time and thus to encountered temperature variation, but this was not the
case for the Roebuck Bay species. A review of previous studies, at a global scale, showed that upper lethal thermal limits of tropical
species are closer to maximum habitat temperatures than the upper lethal thermal limits of temperate species, suggesting that
temperate species are better adapted to temperature variation. In this study, we show for the first time, at both local and global
scales, that the lethal thermal limits of bivalves support the climate variability effect in the marine environment.
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