Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 June 2013
This study examined high temperature survival and heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) responses to temperature variation for two marine invertebrate species on sub-Antarctic Marion Island. The isopod Exosphaeroma gigas Leach and the amphipod Hyale hirtipalma Dana had the same tolerance to high temperature. The mean upper temperature which was lethal for 50% of the population (upper lethal temperature, ULT50) was 26.4°C for both species. However, the isopod E. gigas showed significant plasticity of ULT50, with a positive response to acclimation. In addition, the isopod had a heat shock response of Hsp70 at all acclimations, and the amount of Hsp70 protein increased significantly from basal levels upon an acute warm exposure after a cold acclimation. By contrast, the amphipod H. hirtipalma showed limited plasticity of ULT50 and no evidence for a heat shock response (failure of three different Hsp70 antibodies to bind to the extracted 70kDa proteins). Overall, these results reflect different flexibility of thermal tolerance of intertidal invertebrate species on Marion Island, with possible variation in the underlying cellular mechanisms, suggesting that warming associated with climate change may result in changes in species assemblage structure in sub-polar environments.