Distinct realized physiologies in green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) populations from barren and kelp habitats

Schuster, Jasmin M. and Gamperl, A. Kurt and Gagnon, Patrick and Bates, Amanda E. (2022) Distinct realized physiologies in green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) populations from barren and kelp habitats. FACETS, 7 (1). ISSN 2371-1671

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Overgrazing of habitat-forming kelps by sea urchins is reshaping reef seascapes in many temperate regions. Loss of kelp, in particular as a food source, may alter individual consumer physiology, which in turn may impair their ability to respond to climate warming. Here, we measured the temperature dependence of absolute and mass-independent oxygen consumption (M˙O2) using two different exposure protocols (acute exposure and temperature “ramping”), as proxies of realized physiology, between green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) populations from neighbouring barren and kelp habitats. Sea urchins from kelp habitats consumed 8%–78% more oxygen than sea urchins from barrens (across the range of temperatures tested (4–32 °C)) and had higher maximum M˙O2 values (by 26%). This was in part because kelp urchins typically had greater body masses. However, higher mass-independent M˙O2 values of kelp urchins suggest metabolic plasticity in response to habitat per se. In addition, the M˙O2 of sea urchins from kelp habitats was less sensitive to increases in temperature. We conclude that sea urchins from barren and kelp habitats of comparable body mass represent different energetic units. This highlights that habitat type can drive population-level variation that may shape urchins activities and environmental impact. Such variation should be integrated into energy-based models.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/15552
Item ID: 15552
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Keywords: sea urchin barrens, oxygen consumption, habitat loss, thermal response curves, energetics
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Ocean Sciences
Date: 2 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2021-0125
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