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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Recently hatched early benthic phase snails (Nucella ostrina) are more vulnerable to desiccation stress when their energy reserves are depleted.

Photo: Louis A. Gosselin

Mendt SR, Gosselin LA

Role of initial energy reserves in stress tolerance thresholds during the early benthic phase in intertidal invertebrates

Intertidal invertebrates are extremely vulnerable during the early benthic phase, frequently experiencing mortality rates of 30-100% during the first few days of independent benthic life. However, the mechanisms responsible for these high rates of early mortality are not well understood. Mendt and Gosselin explore how initial energy reserves during this precarious life stage impact acute tolerance thresholds to two major environmental stressors: desiccation and high emersion temperature. In both species examined, depleted initial energy reserves had no impact on emersion temperature tolerance, but did significantly reduce the ability to tolerate desiccation stress. This suggests that initial energy reserves can impact early benthic phase mortality, and thus recruitment and intertidal community structure, via an indirect effect on desiccation tolerance.


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