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Abstract

Many Antarctic marine benthic invertebrates are adapted to specific environ− mental conditions (e.g. low stable temperatures, high salinity and oxygen content). Changes caused by global climatic shifts can be expected to have significant impact on their physiol− ogy and distribution. Odontaster validus, an ubiquitous, omnivorous sea star is one of the “keystone species” in the Antarctic benthic communities. Laboratory experiments were car− ried out to study the effect of temperature rise (from 0 to 5#2;C) on some vital biological func− tions that sea stars must perform in order to survive in their environment. Parameters such as behavioural reaction of sea stars to food and food odour, locomotory performance and abil− ity to right were measured. Temperature increase significantly impaired the ability of O. validus to perform these functions (e.g. lowering the number of sea stars able to right, in− creasing time−to−right, reducing locomotory activity, weakening chemosensory reaction to food and food odour). At temperatures of 4 and 5#2;C a loss of motor coordination was ob− served, although at all tested temperatures up to 5#2;C there were single individuals perform− ing successfully.
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