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Glob Chang Biol 2022 May 01;289:3040-3053. doi: 10.1111/gcb.16116.
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Staying in place and moving in space: Contrasting larval thermal sensitivity explains distributional changes of sympatric sea urchin species to habitat warming.

Byrne M , Gall ML , Campbell H , Lamare MD , Holmes SP .

For marine ectotherms, larval success, planktonic larval duration and dispersal trajectories are strongly influenced by temperature, and therefore, ocean warming and heatwaves have profound impacts on these sensitive stages. Warming, through increased poleward flow in regions with western boundary currents, such as the East Australia Current (EAC), provides opportunities for range extension as propagules track preferred conditions. Two sea urchin species, Centrostephanus rodgersii and Heliocidaris tuberculata, sympatric in the EAC warming hotspot, exhibit contrasting responses to warming. Over half a century, C. rodgersii has undergone marked poleward range extension, but the range of H. tuberculata has not changed. We constructed thermal performance curves (TPC) to determine if contrasting developmental thermal tolerance can explain this difference. The temperatures tested encompassed present-day distribution and forecast ocean warming/heatwave conditions. The broad and narrow thermal optimum (Topt) ranges for C. rodgersii and H. tuberculata larvae (7.2 and 4.7°C range, respectively) matched their realized (adult distribution) thermal niches. The cool and warm temperatures for 50% development to the feeding larva approximated temperatures at adult poleward range limits. Larval cool tolerances with respect to mean local temperature differed, 6.0 and 3.8°C respectively. Larval warm tolerances were similar for both species as are the adult warm range edges. The larvae of both species would be sensitive to heatwaves. Centrostephanus rodgersii has stayed in place and shifted in space, likely due to its broad cold-warm larval thermal tolerance and large thermal safety margins. Phenotypic plasticity of the planktonic stage of C. rodgersii facilitated its range extension. In contrast, larval cold intolerance of H. tuberculata explains its restricted range and will delay poleward extension as the region warms. In a warming ocean, we show that intrinsic thermal biology traits of the pelagic stage provide an integrative tool to explain species-specific variation in range shift patterns.

PubMed ID: 35108424
Article link: Glob Chang Biol