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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 537:163-173 (2015)  -  DOI:

Effects of temperature and humidity on activity and microhabitat selection by Littorina subrotundata

Karen J. C. Rickards1,2, Elizabeth Grace Boulding1,*

1Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
2Present address: Douglas College, PO Box 2503, New Westminster, BC V3L 5B2, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Animals living in intertidal habitats experience high temperatures and low humidity during emersion that represent extreme deviations from those experienced during immersion; some use behaviour to ameliorate these stressors. We made in situ observations of 3 behaviours displayed by the Pacific intertidal snail Littorina subrotundata on 3 exposed rocky intertidal shores in the northeast Pacific: microhabitat selection, activity level, and conspecific aggregation. We hypothesized that these behaviours might be altered in response to temperature and/or humidity at a particular time during tidal emersion. We used the Akaike information criterion to compare a set of models for each of the 3 behaviours that included combinations of substrate temperature (Ts), vapour pressure deficit (VPD) (which encompasses humidity), emersion time, snail shell width (Size), and study site (Site) as the independent variables. The best supported model of microhabitat selection in the summers of 2011 and 2012 used only the independent variables Site and Size. The best supported model of activity included both Ts and VPD in 2011 but included only Ts in 2012; increased Ts resulted in decreased activity. None of the models in the set explained much of the variance in conspecific aggregation. We conclude an alternate cue for microhabitat selection is likely in this system and suggest that biogenic refuges created by barnacles are a likely driver. Our findings also suggest that thermal stress during emersion is the primary cue that informs the snails to reduce their activity.

KEY WORDS: Habitat selection · Activity · Aggregation · Intertidal environment · Temperature · Vapour pressure deficit · Biogenic habitat · Akaike information criteria

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Cite this article as: Rickards KJC, Boulding EG (2015) Effects of temperature and humidity on activity and microhabitat selection by Littorina subrotundata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 537:163-173.

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