AB 26:179-184 (2017)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00685

Thermal adaptation and physiological responses to environmental stress in tunicates

V. Montalto1,*, R. Bagarella2, A. Rinaldi1,2, G. Sarà2, S. Mirto1

1Istituto per l’Ambiente Marino Costiero-Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IAMC-CNR), via G. da Verrazzano 17, 91014 Castellammare del Golfo, TP, Italy
2Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e del Mare, Viale delle Scienze Ed. 16, Università di Palermo, 90128 Palermo, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding the multifaceted nature of environmental fluctuations is crucial to predicting the physiological adjustments utilised by organisms in resisting or adapting to changes over time. Here we investigate the effects of 2 environmental stressors on tunicates, whose fitness can have important repercussions on the quality of habitat. Specifically, we report respiration rate (RR), clearance rate (CR), and assimilation efficiency (AE) of the ascidian Styela plicata in response to a range of temperatures and varying food availability. Temperature-dependent RR was observed only within a portion of the thermal window of the species. Significant differences in clearance rates were detected among organisms fed with varying algal concentrations, while no significant influence of food concentrations on AE was observed. This plasticity of the physiological rates and the development of ubiquitous mechanisms such as temperature-insensitive aerobic metabolism suggest a competitive advantage of this group. Such knowledge may allow for more accurate predictions of the physiological and evolutionary mechanisms driving current and future distribution of this species.

KEY WORDS: Clearance rate · Ecophysiology · Thermal tolerance · Trade-off

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Cite this article as: Montalto V, Bagarella R, Rinaldi A, Sarà G, Mirto S (2017) Thermal adaptation and physiological responses to environmental stress in tunicates. Aquat Biol 26:179-184. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00685

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