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Physiological energetics and biogeographic range limits of three congeneric mussel species

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Closely related species with different physiological tolerances and distributions make ideal systems for documenting range shifts in response to a changing climate. Mytilus edulis, M. trossulus, and M. galloprovincialis are sibling species of marine mussels with distinct biogeographical ranges that are correlated with sea surface temperatures. We determined the scope for growth of these three species at a range of temperatures to determine if energetics could predict their distributions. Scope for growth (SFG) represents energy available for growth and/or reproduction above that necessary for maintenance requirements. The SFG of M. galloprovincialis, the species known to inhabit the warmest habitats, was shifted towards warmer temperatures compared to the other two species, remaining positive until nearly 30 °C. M. edulis, a cold-temperate species, maintained a positive SFG up to 23 °C. M. trossulus, a boreal species, generally was not able to maintain a positive SFG above 17 °C. The warm end of each species’ range correlated strongly with the point at which that species’ SFG became negative in summer and fall. Energetics at cold temperatures did not predict the cold end of the species’ ranges, as there was no clear SFG advantage to explain the dominance of M. trossulus in cold habitats. As sea surface temperatures continue to warm with climate change, the energetics of these three species provide a basis for developing mechanistic models predicting future distribution and productivity changes in mussel populations.

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J.P.’s Shellfish, Penn Cove Shellfish and E.S. Maung (University of Delaware) generously provided mussels for physiological measurements. P.M. Brannock, C. Monaco, R.L. Rognstad, K.A. Smith and L. Yamane assisted with physiological measurements. G.T. Chandler, K.M. Washburn, T.L. Richardson, E. Goldman, and B. Bachman provided access to and help with the Coulter Counter. D.S. Wethey helped acquire temperature data and participated in discussions on various aspects of the manuscript. This research was funded by NASA (NNG04GE43G, NNX07AF20G, NNX11AP77), NOAA (NA04NOS4780264), and NSF (OCE1039513, OCE1129401) grants to T.J.H.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth K. Fly.

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Communicated by Pete Peterson.

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Fly, E.K., Hilbish, T.J. Physiological energetics and biogeographic range limits of three congeneric mussel species. Oecologia 172, 35–46 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-012-2486-6

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  • Biogeography
  • Energetics
  • Scope for growth
  • Mytilus
  • Blue mussel