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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 65(7)

Thermal limit of Euastacus sulcatus (Decapoda: Parastacidae), a freshwater crayfish from the highlands of central eastern Australia

James William Parker Bone A B , Clyde Hamilton Wild A and James Michael Furse A

A Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, Qld 4222, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: j.bone@griffith.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 65(7) 645-651 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF13189
Submitted: 20 March 2013  Accepted: 30 October 2013   Published: 19 May 2014


 
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Abstract

Increased temperature as a potentially threatening process, and the need to investigate the thermal tolerance of the ‘highland-rainforest’ Euastacus were first identified 20 years ago; however, the thermal repertoire of Euastacus has still not been explored. Euastacus is the largest of Australia’s 10 freshwater crayfish genera with 52 species, and includes many of the largest, slowest-growing and longest-lived species (some >35 years) in the World. Several species have distributions consistent with being ‘climate refugees’, namely, being closely associated with cool, damp conditions and restricted to isolated mountain-top refuges. The present study investigated the critical thermal limit of a well known abundant species, Euastacus sulcatus, from central eastern Australia. Thermal limit was assessed using chronic, ongoing exposure to steadily increasing temperature, with the breakdown of physiological function tested by righting response. Distress was clearly evident in the crayfish at ~23°C (e.g. sluggish, lack of aggression), and the test criterion was met at ~27°C, with animals effectively incapacitated and unable to right themselves. Field water temperatures rarely exceed 21°C; however, any increases in environmental temperature may expose this species to temperatures where physiological stress may become problematic.

Additional keywords: aquatic poikilotherm, climate change, environmental temperature.


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