Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Louisiana
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Casas S. M., Filgueira R, Lavaud R., Comeau L. A., La Peyre M. K., La Peyre J. F.. 2018. COMBINED EFFECTS OF TEMPERATURE AND SALINITY ON THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TWO GEOGRAPHICALLY-DISTANT EASTERN OYSTER POPULATIONS. Journal of Experimental Biology 506:82-90.


Understanding why a species occupies a certain geographic range and predicting how they will be affected by climate change require characterizing physiological traits in geographically-distant populations. The objective of this study was to perform a direct comparison of two eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations that occupy contrasting temperature and salinity habitats, New Brunswick, Canada (47 °N – Gulf of St. Lawrence) and Louisiana, USA (29 °N – Gulf of Mexico). Specifically, clearance rate, valve opening and oxygen consumption rate were measured in oysters of both populations following a full factorial design with three temperatures (10, 20, 30°C) and two salinities (15, 25). New Brunswick oysters had a greater gill area, shell gap angle, and oxygen consumption rate. Temperature was the main driver of clearance rate, valve opening duration and oxygen consumption rate. Clearance rate at 20°C and 30°C was significantly higher than at 10°C, and oysters at 20°C had their valves opened for a greater percentage of time compared to oysters at 10°C and 30°C. Oxygen consumption rate increased gradually from 10°C to 30°C and similarly for both populations, with no indications of a thermal breakpoint at 30°C. Temperature coefficients for the oxygen consumption rate (Q10) were within the normal ecological range for both populations. No physiological differences were observed between salinities in both populations. No latitudinal compensation in the physiological rates was found. Overall, results showed that C. virginica is tolerant to a broad range of temperatures and salinities. Such physiological plasticity is consistent with the species’ extended geographical range.