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Data from: Weather and topography regulate the benefit of a conditionally helpful parasite


Monsinjon, Jonathan et al. (2021), Data from: Weather and topography regulate the benefit of a conditionally helpful parasite, Dryad, Dataset,


Heat-induced mass mortalities involving ecosystem engineers may have long-lasting detrimental effects at the community level, eliminating the ecosystem services they provide. Intertidal mussels are ecologically and economically valuable with some populations facing unprecedented heat-induced mass mortalities. Critically, mussels are also frequently infested by endolithic parasites that modify shell albedo, hence reducing overheating and mortality rates under heat stress. Using a biophysical model, we explored the topographical and meteorological conditions under which endolithically-driven thermal buffering becomes critical to survival. Based on meteorological data from a global climate analysis, we modelled body temperatures of infested and non-infested mussels over the last decade (2010-2020) at nine sites spread across ca. 20° of latitude. We show that thermal buffering is enhanced where and when heat stress is greatest, that is, on sun-exposed surfaces under high solar radiation and high air temperature. These results suggest that new co-evolutionary pathways are likely to open for these symbiotic organisms as climate continues to change, potentially tipping the balance of the relationship from a parasitic to a more mutualistic one. However, endolithically-driven reductions in body temperatures can also occur at or below optimal temperatures, thereby reducing the host’s metabolic rates and making the interplay of positive and negative effects complex. In parallel, we hindcasted body temperatures using empirical data from nearby weather stations and found that predictions were very similar with those obtained from two global climate reanalyses (i.e., NCEP-DOE Reanalysis 2 and ECMWF Reanalysis v5). This result holds great promise for modelling the distribution of terrestrial ectotherms at ecologically relevant spatiotemporal scales, as it suggests we can reasonably bypass the practical issues associated with weather stations. For intertidal ectotherms, however, the challenge will be incorporating body temperatures over the full tidal cycle.


The term “robomussel” refers to a biomimetic sensor which contains a temperature logger glued between shells of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Robomussels were deployed within the mid mussel zone on a relatively flat surface (< 20°). For each pair of robomussel, both types (i.e., built with either infested or non-infested shells) were placed close to each other (ca. 10 cm). Raw temperature data for each logger are placed end to end in this table. Pairs of robomussels were deployed in Portugal, France, and the United Kingdom: Viana do Castelo (VIA, n = 3 pairs), Monte Clerigo (MON, n = 3 pairs), Vilamoura (VIL, n = 3 pairs), Wimereux (WIM, n = 6 pairs), Locquémeau (LOC, n = 3 pairs), Pointe Saint-Gildas (GIL, n = 4 pairs), Nebogeo (NEB, n = 3 pairs), Bay of Skaill (SKA, n = 3 pairs), Aberffraw (ABE, n = 3 pairs). Details on locations and deployment periods are given below (each row: site|latitude, longitude|deployment period).

NEB|59.066536, -3.349536|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

SKA|59.057077, -3.342629|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

ABE|53.182441, -4.489719|2018-07-27 to 2018-09-08

WIM|50.752994, 1.595021|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

LOC|48.724919, -3.589641|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

GIL|47.134162, -2.250199|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

VIA|41.699471, -8.857048|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

MON|37.341377, -8.854512|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

VIL|37.070756, -8.122935|2017-08-01 to 2017-09-13

Usage Notes




RobomusselData.csv - This file contains a table with seven columns:

"site" contains the full name of each study site.

"site_code" contains the short name of each study site.

"robomussel_pair" contains the identification number of each pair of robomussels.

"robomussel_type" contains the type of robomussel (either non-infested when using clean shells or infested if using shells already degraded by endoliths).

"datetime_GMT0" contains the dates and times at which temperatures were recorded (format: yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss and time zone: UTC±00:00).

"temperature_DegC" contains temperatures recorded in degrees Celsius every 30 minutes by loggers inserted into robomussels.


National Research Foundation of South Africa, Award: 64801

Pierre Hubert Curien PESSOA Program

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Rhodes University