Molluscan ResearchISSN 1323-5818
 An international journal of the Malacological Society of Australasia and 
the Society for the Study of Molluscan Diversity published by Magnolia Press

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Molluscan Research 31(2): 106-113; published 28 Jul. 2011
Copyright © The Malacological Society of Australasia & the Society for the Study of Molluscan Diversity

Visualizing hotspots: Applying thermal imaging to monitor internal temperatures in intertidal gastropods


1School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia

2 Current address Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra, Australia

* Corresponding author, current address School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia. E-mail:


Investigating the impacts of climate change highlights a need to rapidly quantify an organism’s thermal environment. We investigated the reliability of non-contact thermal imaging for measuring temperatures in an intertidal gastropod. Thermal maxima from images of either dorsal or ventral surfaces correlated strongly with invasive temperature-probe readings, producing highly significant regression models to predict mantle temperatures from thermal images. Thermal imaging was then field-tested to non-invasively examine temperature changes of snails relative to their substrate: those exposed to sunlight had a mean temperature 4–8˚C above the substrate during the day but 2–4˚C below at night. Thermoregulation was also tested in the laboratory: when exposed to 45˚C for 24 hours, snails reached 35–44˚C, significantly higher than those (18˚C to 25˚C) held at 25˚C. Thermal imaging is reliable for rapidly measuring tissue temperatures in a shelled gastropod typical of intertidal environments, thus providing a powerful tool for testing hypotheses about thermal responses in the changing global environment.

Key words: climate change evaluation, field measurement, Nerita atramentosa, novel methodology, rocky seashore, southern Australia, temperature trends, thermal ecology, Gastropoda

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