The physiology of Venezillo arizonicus (Isopoda, Armadillidae): metabolism and thermal tolerance

In: Crustaceana
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  • 1 Pomona College, Department of Biology, 175 West 6th Street, Claremont, CA 91711, U.S.A.
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Venezillo arizonicus (Mulaik & Mulaik, 1942) is the only oniscidean isopod native to the Southwest Desert Province of North America. In accordance with its desert habitat, we hypothesized that V. arizonicus would have a higher upper lethal temperature than mesic oniscideans. If oniscidean thermal tolerance is limited by an oxygen consumption-uptake mismatch (physiological hypoxia), as indicated by recent work with other land isopods, we further hypothesized that V. arizonicus would possess highly efficient pleopodal lungs, as defined by its capacity for metabolic regulation in reduced PO2. Other adaptations to counter oxygen limitation at high temperatures could include reduced temperature sensitivity of metabolism (low Q10) and an overall reduction in metabolic rate. Thermal tolerance was measured using the progressive method of Cowles & Bogert and the catabolic rate of animals (VCO2) was measured as a function of temperature and PO2. The critical thermal maximum (CTmax) of winter-acclimatized animals was 43.0 ± 0.85°C, 1.6-2.6°C higher than published values for summer-acclimatized mesic oniscideans. The catabolic rate at 25°C was 1.50 ± 0.203 μl min−1 g−1, markedly lower than values determined for mesic Oniscidea (4-6 μl min−1 g−1) and was unaffected by hypoxia as low as 2% O2 (ca. 2 kPa). Catabolism was, however, quite sensitive to temperature, showing a mean Q10 of 2.58 over 25-42°C. The efficient pleopodal lungs and low metabolic rate of V. arizonicus will both tend to mitigate physiological hypoxia, consistent with the species’ high CTmax. A low catabolic rate may also be an adaptation to low habitat productivity and seasonally constrained activity patterns.

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