Minutietal2021_STOT_heatwaves and recovery effects on sea urchin
datasetposted on 27.04.2021, 08:27 by Jay Joan Minuti, Bayden Dwight Russell, Deevesh Ashley Hemraj, Maria Byrne
Heatwaves are increasing in frequency and intensity, with substantial impacts on ecosystems and species which maintain their function. Whether or not species are harmed by heatwave conditions by being pushed beyond their physiological bounds can depend on whether energy replacement is sufficient to enable recovery from acute stress. We exposed an ecologically important sea urchin, Heliocidaris erythrogramma, to experimental marine heatwave scenarios in context with recent summer heat anomalies in moderate (25 °C), and strong heatwave (26 °C) conditions for 10 days, followed by a 10-day recovery period at normal summer temperature (23 °C). Greater heatwave intensity drove higher metabolic rates which were not matched with a concurrent increase in food consumption or faecal production. However, food consumption increased during the post-heatwave recovery period, likely to replenish an energy deficit. Despite this, mortality increased into the recovery period and seemed to be caused by latent effects, manifesting as a decline in health index as individuals progressed from spine and pedicellariae loss, through to loss of tube foot rigor, bald patch disease, culminating in mortality. We show for the first time that the acute thermal stress of heatwaves can have latent physiological effects that cause mortality even when conditions return to normal. Our results show that the negative effects of heatwaves can manifest after relief from stressful conditions and highlight the importance of understanding the latent effects on physiology and health. This understanding will offer insights into the long-term potential for stress recovery following seemingly sublethal effects and whether the restoration of ambient conditions post-heatwave is sufficient to ensure population stability.