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The Capabilities of an Intertidal Crab Along a Latitudinal Gradient

Paper Reviewed
Gaitan-Espitia, J.D., Bacigalupe, L.D., Opitz, T., Lagos, N.A.,Timmermann, T. and Lardies, M.A. 2014. Geographic variation in thermal physiological performance of the intertidal crab Petrolisthes violaceus along a latitudinal gradient. The Journal of Experimental Biology 217: 4379-4386.

In setting the stage for their study, Gaitan-Espitia et al. (2014) write that "environmental temperature has profound effects on the biological performance and biogeographical distribution of ectothermic species," noting that "variation of this abiotic factor across geographic gradients is expected to produce physiological differentiation and local adaptation of natural populations depending on their thermal tolerances and physiological sensitivities." And desiring to learn more about these phenomena, they say they studied "geographic variation in whole-organism thermal physiology of seven populations of the porcelain crab Petrolisthes violaceus across a latitudinal gradient of 3000 km [along the Chilean coast of South America], characterized by a cline of thermal conditions."

This effort revealed that the various populations of P. violaceus that the six scientists studied showed "no differences in the limits of their thermal performance curves." In addition, they found that "high-latitude populations of P. violaceus exhibit broader thermal tolerances." And they thus conclude that "under a future scenario of warming oceans, the thermal safety margins of P. violaceus indicate that lower latitude populations can physiologically tolerate the ocean-warming scenarios projected by the IPCC for the end of the twenty-first century," which is truly good news for nature.

Posted 14 April 2015