Thermal plasticity is independent of environmental history in an intertidal seaweed

McCoy, SJ and Widdicombe, S 2019 Thermal plasticity is independent of environmental history in an intertidal seaweed. Ecology and Evolution, 9 (23). 13402-13412.

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Organisms inhabiting the intertidal zone have been used to study natural ecophysiological responses and adaptations to thermal stress because these organisms are routinely exposed to high‐temperature conditions for hours at a time. While intertidal organisms may be inherently better at withstanding temperature stress due to regular exposure and acclimation, they could be more vulnerable to temperature stress, already living near the edge of their thermal limits. Strong gradients in thermal stress across the intertidal zone present an opportunity to test whether thermal tolerance is a plastic or canalized trait in intertidal organisms. Here, we studied the intertidal pool‐dwelling calcified alga, Ellisolandia elongata, under near‐future temperature regimes, and the dependence of its thermal acclimatization response on environmental history. Two timescales of environmental history were tested during this experiment. The intertidal pool of origin was representative of long‐term environmental history over the alga's life (including settlement and development), while the pool it was transplanted into accounted for recent environmental history (acclimation over many months). Unexpectedly, neither long‐term nor short‐term environmental history, nor ambient conditions, affected photosynthetic rates in E. elongata. Individuals were plastic in their photosynthetic response to laboratory temperature treatments (mean 13.2°C, 15.7°C, and 17.7°C). Further, replicate ramets from the same individual were not always consistent in their photosynthetic performance from one experimental time point to another or between treatments and exhibited no clear trend in variability over experimental time. High variability in climate change responses between individuals may indicate the potential for resilience to future conditions and, thus, may play a compensatory role at the population or species level over time.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Divisions: Plymouth Marine Laboratory > Science Areas > Marine Ecology and Biodiversity
Depositing User: Mrs Christina Devereux
Date made live: 17 Jan 2020 15:29
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2020 10:02

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