Linking behaviour and climate change in intertidal ectotherms: Insights from littorinid snails
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Authors: Ng, T.P.T., Lau, S.L.Y., Seuront, L., Davies, M.S., Stafford, R., Marshall, D.J. and Williams, G.A.
Journal: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.A key element missing from many predictive models of the impacts of climate change on intertidal ectotherms is the role of individual behaviour. In this synthesis, using littorinid snails as a case study, we show how thermoregulatory behaviours may buffer changes in environmental temperatures. These behaviours include either a flight response, to escape the most extreme conditions and utilize warmer or cooler environments; or a fight response, where individuals modify their own environments to minimize thermal extremes. A conceptual model, generated from studies of littorinid snails, shows that various flight and fight thermoregulatory behaviours may allow an individual to widen its thermal safety margin (TSM) under warming or cooling environmental conditions and hence increase species' resilience to climate change. Thermoregulatory behaviours may also buffer sublethal fitness impacts associated with thermal stresses. Through this synthesis, we emphasize that future studies need to consider not only animals' physiological limits but also their capacities to buffer the impact of climate change through behavioural responses. Current generalizations, made largely on physiological limits of species, often neglect the buffering effects of behaviour and may, therefore, provide an over-estimation of vulnerability, and consequently poor prediction of the potential impacts of climate change on intertidal ectotherms.