Wave-induced changes in seaweed toughness entail plastic modifications in snail traits maintaining consumption efficacy

Molis, Markus, Scrosati, Ricardo A., El-Belely, Ehab F., Lesniowski, Thomas J. and Wahl, Martin (2015) Wave-induced changes in seaweed toughness entail plastic modifications in snail traits maintaining consumption efficacy Journal of Ecology, 103 (4). pp. 851-859. DOI 10.1111/1365-2745.12386.

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[img] Text (Table S1. anova results on the effects of attachment method (replants and unmanipulated) and wave exposure (sheltered and exposed –Helgoland– or very exposed –Nova Scotia–) on the tissue toughness of Fucus vesiculosus thalli.)
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Abstract

Summary: Environmental stress can influence species traits and performance considerably. Using a seaweed-snail system from NW (Nova Scotia) and NE (Helgoland) Atlantic rocky shores, we examined how physical stress (wave exposure) modulates traits in the seaweed Fucus vesiculosus and indirectly in its main consumer, the periwinkle Littorina obtusata. In both regions, algal tissue toughness increased with wave exposure. Reciprocal-transplant experiments showed that tissue toughness adjusted plastically to the prevailing level of wave exposure. Choice experiments tested the feeding preference of snails from sheltered, exposed and very exposed habitats for algae from such wave exposures. Snails from exposed and very exposed habitats consumed algal tissues at similar rates irrespective of the exposure of origin of the algae. However, snails from sheltered habitats consumed less algal tissues from very exposed habitats than tissues from sheltered and exposed habitats. Choice assays using reconstituted algal food (triturated during preparation) identified high thallus toughness as the explanation for the low preference of snails from sheltered habitats for algae from very exposed habitats. Ultrastructural analyses of radulae indicated that rachidian teeth were longest and the number of cusps in lateral teeth (grazing-relevant traits) was highest in snails from very exposed habitats, suggesting that radulae are best suited to rupture tough algal tissues in such snails. No-choice feeding experiments revealed that these radular traits were also phenotypically plastic, as they adjusted to the toughness of the algal food. Synthesis. This study indicates that the observed plasticity in the feeding ability of snails is mediated by wave exposure through phenotypic plasticity in the tissue toughness of algae. Thus, plasticity in consumers and their resource species may reduce the potential effects of physical stress on their interaction. Experiments revealed that environmental stress (wave exposure) modulated a structural seaweed trait (thallus toughness) and, indirectly, feeding-relevant traits (radular morphology) in the seaweed's main consumer (snail), enabling snails to maintain consumption efficacy across the observed range in seaweed toughness. Thus, plasticity in consumers and their resource species may reduce the potential effects of physical stress on their interaction.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000356630600007
Keywords: Abiotic stress; Alga; Interspecific interaction; Intertidal; Periwinkle; Phenotypic plasticity; Plant-herbivore interactions; Wave exposure
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EOE-B Experimental Ecology - Benthic Ecology
AWI
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1111/1365-2745.12386
ISSN: 0022-0477
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2015 09:04
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2017 12:43
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/28259

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