The myth of metabolic cold adaptation: oxygen consumption in stenothermal Antarctic bivalves

Antarctic marine ectotherms are often described as only being capable of living in a restricted temperature range, i.e. they are stenothermal. However, few data exist demonstrating that for a given group this is the case. The Antarctic bivalve molluscs Laternula elliptica and Limopsis marionensis are similar to other Antarctic invertebrates and can only exist within a temperature window of 6–12°C. This is two to six times smaller than the range for temperate and tropical bivalves, thus demonstrating their stenothermal nature. The possibility of elevated metabolic rates of cold-water ectotherms has been a topic of debate over many years. Recently, the suggestion that metabolic rates must be elevated at low temperatures to overcome constraints has been supported by findings that mitochondrial contents of muscles in ectotherms are higher at low temperatures. Data, presented here for standard or routine metabolic rates of 41 species of bivalve mollusc from polar, temperate and tropical sites, indicate that oxygen consumption is not elevated at low temperatures. Indeed, analysis of Q10 coefficients between 0 and 25°C suggests that metabolic rates of polar species may be lower than would be expected by comparison with temperate bivalves


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Authors: Peck, L.S. ORCIDORCID record for L.S. Peck, Conway, L.Z.

On this site: Lloyd Peck
1 January, 2000
Geological Society, London, Special Publications / 177
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