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Seasonal variation in utilization of biogenic microhabitats by littorinid snails on tropical rocky shores
Cartwright, S.R.; Williams, G.A. (2012). Seasonal variation in utilization of biogenic microhabitats by littorinid snails on tropical rocky shores. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(10): 2323-2332.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Cartwright, S.R.
  • Williams, G.A.

    Mobile species may actively seek refuge from stressful conditions in biogenic habitats on rocky shores. In Hong Kong, the upper intertidal zone is extremely stressful, especially in summer when organisms are emersed for long periods in hot desiccating conditions. As a result, many species migrate downshore between winter and summer to reduce these stressful conditions. The littorinids Echinolittorina malaccana and E. vidua, for example, are found on open rock surfaces high on the shore in winter but the majority migrate downshore in summer to the same tidal height as a common barnacle, Tetraclita japonica. In the laboratory, where environmental conditions could be controlled to approximate those occurring on the shore, we tested whether the downshore migration allowed littorinids to select barnacles as biogenic habitats to reduce stress and if this behaviour varied between seasons. In summer, littorinids demonstrated a strong active preference for the barnacles, which was not observed in the cool winter conditions, when animals were found on open rock surfaces even when barnacles were present. Littorinids, therefore, only actively select biogenic habitats during the summer in Hong Kong when they migrate downshore, suggesting that such habitats may play an important, temporal, role in mitigating environmental stress on tropical shores.

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