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The effect of seasonal temperature variation on behaviour and metabolism in the freshwater mussel (Unio tumidus)

Lurman, Glenn J., Walter, Johanna, Hoppeler, Hans H.
Journal of thermal biology 2014 v.43 pp. 13-23
Bivalvia, acclimation, autumn, behavior change, burrowing, freshwater, metabolism, mussels, oxygen, oxygen consumption, predation, seasonal variation, selection pressure, spring, summer, temperature, thermodynamics, winter
Temperature plays a critical role in determining the biology of ectotherms. Many animals have evolved mechanisms that allow them to compensate biological rates, i.e. adjust biological rates to overcome thermodynamic effects. For low energy-organisms, such as bivalves, the costs of thermal compensation may be greater than the benefits, and thus prohibitive. To examine this, two experiments were designed to explore thermal compensation in Unio tumidus. Experiment 1 examined seasonal changes in behaviour in U. tumidus throughout a year. Temperature had a clear effect on burrowing rate with no evidence of compensation. Valve closure duration and frequency were also strongly affected by seasonal temperature change, but there was slight evidence of partial compensation. Experiment 2 examined oxygen consumption during burrowing, immediately following valve opening and at rest in summer (24°C), autumn (14°C), winter (4°C), and spring (14°C) acclimatized U. tumidus. Again, there was little evidence of burrowing rate compensation, but some evidence of partial compensation of valve closure duration and frequency. None of the oxygen compensation rates showed any evidence of thermal compensation. Thus, in general, there was only very limited evidence of thermal compensation of behaviour and no evidence of thermal compensation of oxygen compensation rates. Based upon this evidence, we argue that there is no evolutionary pressure for these bivalves to compensate these biological rates. Any pressure may be to maintain or even lower oxygen consumption as their only defence against predation is to close their valves and wait. An increase in oxygen consumption will be detrimental in this regard so the cost of thermal compensation may outweigh the benefits.