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Behavioural and respiratory response of the shallow-water hermit crab Pagurus cuanensis to hydrostatic pressure and temperature

By Sven Thatje, Laura Casburn and Javier A. Calcagno


The evolutionary history of the Anomura has long been controversially discussed. One aspect that has received little attention is the dissimilarity in physiological tolerances of the related families Paguridae and Lithodidae to environmental conditions, and how this may have determined the divergence and radiation of the families into different distribution ranges, in particular with regard to the limited penetration of the deep sea by the Paguridae. This study investigates the physiological tolerances of the temperate shallow-water hermit crab, Pagurus cuanensis, to various temperature (5, 10, 15, 20 °C) and pressure regimes (1 to 100 atm) by measuring the standard metabolic rate (SMR) and behavioural changes. SMR was primarily affected by temperature, with a notably low rate at 5 °C throughout all pressures. Behaviour was primarily affected by pressure, with an increase in pressure from 50 to 100 atmospheres (atm) resulting in reduced activity. It is suggested that this species can tolerate hydrostatic pressures greater than those found in its natural bathymetric range. It is hypothesised that a lack of physiological cold tolerance and the need to find gastropod shells for protection are the principal restrictions maintaining P. cuanensis to a maximum depth of approximately 250m. The results indicate that temperate shallow-water invertebrates could indeed be able to penetrate greater depths as continental shelf waters warm up in the course of global climate change

Year: 2010
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Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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