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Data from: Hot rocks and not-so-hot rocks on the seashore: patterns and body-size dependent consequences of microclimatic variation in intertidal zone boulder habitat

Citation

Gunderson, Alex (2019), Data from: Hot rocks and not-so-hot rocks on the seashore: patterns and body-size dependent consequences of microclimatic variation in intertidal zone boulder habitat, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.12jm63xsz

Abstract

Microclimatic variation has emerged as an important driver of many ecological and evolutionary processes. Nonetheless, fine-scale temperature data are still rare in most habitats, limiting our ability to understand the consequences of microclimatic variation under current and future conditions. We measured fine-scale thermal variation in a common, species-rich, but rarely studied habitat with respect to temperature: the airspaces under rocks on intertidal zone boulder shores. Effects of thermal variation were investigated using physiological, behavioral, and demographic responses of the porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes. Habitat temperatures were measured at fine spatial and temporal resolution over 18 months, producing 424,426 temperature records. Microclimatic variation increased with increasing intertidal elevation, particularly with respect to heat extremes. However, mean temperatures were similar across the entire intertidal zone. Overheating risk for P. cinctipes increases with intertidal elevation but is size dependent, as large animals are more heat sensitive than small animals. Still, microclimatic variation high in the intertidal zone provided thermal refugia even under the warmest conditions. Size-dependent thermal responses predicted that large crabs should be rare high in the intertidal zone, which was supported by demographic data. Furthermore, simulations parameterized by our microclimate and organismal data recapitulated demographic patterns. Therefore, interactions between microclimatic variation and size-dependent thermal responses may have significant ecological repercussions that warrant greater attention.