Effects of ambient temperature and of temperature acclimation on nitrogen excretion and differential catabolism of protein and nonprotein resources in the intertidal snails, Littorina saxatilis (Olivi) and L. obtusata (L.)

  • David W. Aldridge
  • W. D. Russell-Hunter
  • Robert F. McMahon
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 111)


Nitrogenous excretion in two snails, Littorina saxatilis (high intertidal) and L. obtusata (low intertidal) was studied in relation to temperature acclimation (at 4° and 21°C), including total N excretion rates, the fraction of urea in N excretion, corresponding O:N ratios and the partitioning of deaminated protein between catabolic and anabolic processes at 4°, 11° and 21°C. Aggregate N excretion rates in both species showed no significant compensatory adjustments following acclimation. Total weight specific N excretion rates at 21°C were higher in standard 3 mg L. saxatilis (739 ng N mg-1 h-1) than standard 5 mg L. obtusata (257 ng N mg-1 h-1) for snails acclimated to 21°C. Comparisons of Q10 values of total weight specific N excretion to Q10 values for weight specific oxygen consumption (VO2) between 4° to 11°C and 11° to 21°C indicated that, while total rates of catabolic metabolism (VO2) and protein deamination in L. obtusata were essentially parallel, the relationship between N excretion and VO2 in L. saxatilis revealed the partitioning of a larger share of deaminated protein carbon into anabolism at 4° and 21°C than at 11°C. Urea N accounted for a larger share of aggregate N excreted in L. saxatilis than in L. obtusata, but in both species urea N is a greater proportion of total N excreted when acclimated at 4°C (urea N: ammonia N ratio range: 1 to 2.15) than in snails acclimated to 21°C (urea N: ammonia N ratio range: 0.46 to 1.39). Molar O:N ratios indicate that the proportion of metabolism supported by protein catabolism is greater in L. saxatilis (O:N range: 2.5–8.4) than in L. obtusata (O:N range: 7.3–13.0). In both species, regardless of acclimation temperature, the O:N ratios are generally lowest (high protein catabolism) at 4°C and highest at 21°C.

Key words

nitrogen excretion O:N ratios ammonia excretion urea excretion Littorina saxatilis Littorina obtusata 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Aldridge
    • 1
    • 2
  • W. D. Russell-Hunter
    • 1
    • 3
  • Robert F. McMahon
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNorth Carolina Agricultural and Technical State UniversityGreensboroUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologySyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.Section of Comparative Physiology, Department of BiologyUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

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