A re-interpretation of the effect of temperature on the metabolism of certain marine invertebrates



Measurements by nieans of an oxygen electrode of the rate of oxygen consumption of a wide variety of common intertidal invertebrates show that at least two rates of uptake can be distinguished in the intact animal. First, there is a rapid rate of oxygen uptake corresponding with activity and second there is a slower rate which corresponds with periods of quiescence and which alternates with the fast rate. Intermediate rates correspond with intermediate rates of overt activity. The maximal and minimal rates of oxygen uptake are affected differently by temperature change. The fast rate corresponding to activity (“active metabolism”) increases with temperature in approximate agreement with Arrhenius's law. The slow rate corresponding to quiescence (“maintenance metabolism”) does not vary with temperature over much of the range 7 to 22.5d̀C. It is concluded that, contrary to common belief, the intertidal invertebrates studied have a “basal metabolic rate” with a Q10 of approximately one over much of the normal environmental temperature range and in this respect are well suited to life in a habitat where rapid fluctuations in temperature occur.