Micro-scale environmental variation amplifies physiological variation among individual mussels
The contributions of temporal and spatial environmental variation to physiological variation remain poorly resolved. Rocky intertidal zone populations are subjected to thermal variation over the tidal cycle, superimposed with micro-scale variation in individuals' body temperatures. Using the sea mussel (Mytilus californianus), we assessed the consequences of this micro-scale environmental variation for physiological variation among individuals, first by examining the latter in field-acclimatized animals, second by abolishing micro-scale environmental variation via common garden acclimation, and third by restoring this variation using a reciprocal outplant approach. Common garden acclimation reduced the magnitude of variation in tissue-level antioxidant capacities by approximately 30% among mussels from a wave-protected (warm) site, but it had no effect on antioxidant variation among mussels from a wave-exposed (cool) site. The field-acclimatized level of antioxidant variation was restored only when protected-site mussels were outplanted to a high, thermally stressful site. Variation in organismal oxygen consumption rates reflected antioxidant patterns, decreasing dramatically among protected-site mussels after common gardening. These results suggest a highly plastic relationship between individuals' genotypes and their physiological phenotypes that depends on recent environmental experience. Corresponding context-dependent changes in the physiological mean–variance relationships within populations complicate prediction of responses to shifts in environmental variability that are anticipated with global change.
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Jimenez, A. G., Jayawardene, S., Alves, S., Dallmer, J., & Dowd, W. W. (2015). Micro-scale environmental variation amplifies physiological variation among individual mussels. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1820), 20152273. http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.2273