Substrate size mediates thermal stress in the rocky intertidal
Gedan, Keryn B.
Bertness, Mark D.
Leslie, Heather M.
Smithsonian staff publication
Variation in physical factors, such as slope, orientation, and wind exposure, shapes thermal conditions. Variation in substrate size is common in many habitats, but its thermal consequences for organisms are not well characterized. Larger substrates should remain more thermally stable and act as thermal refuges for associated organisms during short, thermally stressful periods such as midday temperature peaks or tidal exposure. In observations and a transplant and thermal integration experiment, we found that larger rock substrates stayed cooler and facilitated greater survival of the barnacle Semibalanus balanoides in the high intertidal relative to small substrates during the hot summer months in southern New England, USA. However, in thermally benign northern New England, rock substrate size had no effect on barnacle distributions, indicating that the thermal effects of substrate size are mediated by regional climate.
Gedan, Keryn B., Bernhardt, Joanna, Bertness, Mark D. and Leslie, Heather M. 2011. Substrate size mediates thermal stress in the rocky intertidal. Ecology, 92(3): 576-582. doi:10.1890/10-0717.1