Ecological differences influence the thermal sensitivity of swimming performance in two co-occurring mysid shrimp species with climate change implications

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Temperature strongly affects performance in ectotherms. As ocean warming continues, performance of marine species will be impacted. Many studies have focused on how warming will impact physiology, life history, and behavior, but few studies have investigated how ecological and behavioral traits of organisms will affect their response to changing thermal environments. Here, we assessed the thermal tolerances and thermal sensitivity of swimming performance of two sympatric mysid shrimp species of the Northwest Atlantic. Neomysis americana and Heteromysis formosa overlap in habitat and many aspects of their ecological niche, but only N. americana exhibits vertical migration. In temperate coastal ecosystems, temperature stratification of the water column exposes vertical migrators to a wider range of temperatures on a daily basis. We found that N. americana had a significantly lower critical thermal minimum (CTmin) and critical thermal maximum (CTmax). However, both mysid species had a buffer of at least 4 °C between their CTmax and the 100-year projection for mean summer water temperatures of 28 °C. Swimming performance of the vertically migrating species was more sensitive to temperature variation, and this species exhibited faster burst swimming speeds. The generalist performance curve of H. formosa and specialist curve of N. americana are consistent with predictions based on the exposure of each species to temperature variation such that higher within-generation variability promotes specialization. However, these species violate the assumption of the specialist-generalist tradeoff in that the area under their performance curves is not constant. Our results highlight the importance of incorporating species-specific responses to temperature based on the ecology and behavior of organisms into climate change prediction models.

Publication Title

Journal of Thermal Biology