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Type: Journal article
Title: Phenotypic homogeneity of two intertidal snails across a wave exposure gradient in South Australia
Author: Prowse, T.
Pile, A.
Citation: Marine Biology Research, 2005; 1(3):176-185
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Issue Date: 2005
ISSN: 1745-1000
Statement of
T. A. A. Prowse & A. J. Pile
Abstract: Dislodgement by the large drag forces imparted by breaking waves is an important cause of mortality for intertidal snails. The risk of drag-induced dislodgement can be reduced with: (1) a smaller shell of lower maximum projected surface area (MPSA); (2) a streamlined shell shape characterized by a squatter shell; and/or (3) greater adhesive strength attained through a larger foot area or increased foot tenacity. Snails on exposed coasts tend to express traits that increase dislodgement resistance. Such habitat-specific differences could result from direct selection against poorly adapted phenotypes on exposed shores but may reflect gastropod adaptation to high wave action achieved through phenotypic plasticity or genetic polymorphism. With this in mind, we examined the size, shape and adhesive strength of populations of two gastropod species, Austrocochlea constricta (Lamarck) and Nerita atramentosa (Reeve), from two adjacent shores representing extremes in wave exposure. Over a 5 day period, maximum wave forces were more than 10 times greater on the exposed than sheltered shore. Size–frequency distributions indicate that a predator consuming snails within the 1.3–1.8 cm length range regulates sheltered shore populations of both snail species. Although morphological scaling considerations suggest that drag forces should not place physical limits on the size of these gastropods, exposed shore populations of both snails were small relative to the maximum size documented for these species. Therefore, selective forces at the exposed site might favour smaller individuals with increased access to microhabitat refuges. Unexpectedly, however, neither snail species exhibited between-shore differences in shape, foot area or foot tenacity, which are likely to have adaptive explanations. Hence, it is possible that these snails are incapable of adaptive developmental responses to high wave action. Instead, the homogeneous and wave-exposed nature of Australia's southern coastline may have favoured the evolution of generalist strategies in these species.
Keywords: Gastropod; phenotypic plasticity; wave energy
Rights: © 2005 Taylor & Francis
RMID: 0020105211
DOI: 10.1080/17451000510018999
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute publications

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