Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Duration of emergence increases with tidal height on rocky shores therefore, emergence adaptations in intertidal species such as littorine and other prosobranch gastropods have been considered correlated with zonation patterns; temperature tolerance, desiccation resistance and aerial respiration rate all commonly assumed to increase progressively with increasing zonation level. Such direct correlations are rarely observed in nature. Maximal aerial gas exchange occurs in mid-shore, not high shore species. Temperature tolerance and desiccation resistance do not increase directly with shore height. Thus, hypotheses regarding physiological correlates of zonation require revaluation. A new hypothesis is presented that the high tide mark presents a single major physiological barrier on rocky shores. Above it, snails experience prolonged emergence and extensive desiccation; below it, predictable submergence and rehydration with each tidal cycle. Thus, desiccation stress is minimal below the high tide mark and maximal above it. Therefore, species restricted below high tide (the eulittoral zone) should display markedly different adaptive strategies to emergence than those above it (the eulittoral fringe). A review of the literature indicated that adaptations in eulittoral species are dominated by those allowing maintenance of activity and foraging in air including: evaporative cooling; low thermal tolerance; elevated aerial O2 uptake rates; and high capacity for radiant heat absorption. Such adaptations exacerbate evaporative water loss. In contrast, species restricted to the eulittoral fringe display adaptive strategies that minimize desiccation and prolong survival of emergence including: foot withdrawal, preventing heat conduction from the substratum; aestivation in air; elevated thermal tolerance reducing necessity for evaporative cooling; position maintenance by cementation to the substratum and increased capacity for heat dissipation. In order to test of this hypothesis the upper thermal limits, tissue and substratum temperatures on emergence in direct sunlight and evaporative water loss and tissue temperatures on emergence in 40 °C were evaluated for specimens of six species of eulittoral and eulittoral fringe gastropods from a granite shore on Princess Royal Harbour near Albany, Western Australia. The results were consistant with adaptation to the proposed desiccation barrier at high tide. The eulittoral species, Austrocochlea constricta, Austrocochlea concamerata, Nerita atramentosa and Lepsiella vinosa, displayed adaptations dominated by maintenance of activity and foraging during emergence while the eulittoral fringe littorine species, Bembicium vittatum and Nodilittorina unifasciata displayed adaptations dominated by minization of activity and evaporative water loss during emergence. The evolution of adaptations allowing tolerance of prolonged desiccation have allowed littorine species to dominate high intertidal rocky shore gastropod faunas throughout the world's oceans.
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