William Wright, Marco Bisoffi
Intertidal communities are considered good models of the biological effects of climate change on ecosystems, as their resident organisms are subjected to heat spells during daytime low tides. The increasing heat exposure can elicit behavioral as well as physiological responses in intertidal organisms. We studied the relationship between these responses to heat stress in the blue-banded hermit crab, Pagurus samuelis, by inducing a “heat shock” with elevated water temperature of 29 °C for 2.5 h. The behavioral effect of heat-shock was quantified using a 30-minute feeding assay, measuring the mass of a standard squid pellet consumed by individual hermit crabs. The physiological effect of the same heat shock was measured with a western blot assay on muscle tissue to measure HSP-70 concentration. HSP-70 is a ubiquitous and evolutionarily conserved chaperone molecule, mitigating protein damage due to heat stress in organisms. Previous work in the Wright lab showed that a 1.25-h exposure to heat-shock inhibits feeding behavior, but has little effect on HSP-70 expression relative to control animals incubated at 18 °C. Prolonging the heat-shock to 2.5 hours caused an apparent recovery of feeding behavior, suggesting an adaptive response that likely takes at least 2 hours to develop. Feeding was positively correlated to HSP-70 levels in unheated control animals and negatively correlated in heated animals.
Kalyta, Anastasia, "Connecting the Physiological and Behavioral Response to Heat Stress on a Warming Planet" (2016). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 195.