Environmental factors promote symbiosis, but its mechanism is not yet well understood. The alga Pseudocladophora conchopheria grows only on the shell of an intertidal gastropod Lunella correensis, and these species have a close symbiotic relationship which the alga reduces heat stress of the gastropod. In collaboration with general public, we investigated how environmental conditions alter the symbiotic interaction between the alga and the gastropod. Information about the habitats of each gastropod and images of shells was obtained from the Japanese and Korean coasts via social media. We constructed the hierarchical Bayesian model using the data. The results indicated that the proportion of shell area covered by P. conchopheria increased as the substrate size utilized by the gastropod increased. Meanwhile, temperature did not affect the proportion of P. conchopheria on the shell. These suggested that the alga provides no benefits for the gastropod on small substrates because gastropod can reduce the heat stress by diving into the small sediment. Further, the gastropod’s cost incurred by growing the alga on the shell seems to be low as the algae can grow even in cooler places where no benefits of heat resistance for gastropods. Different environments can yield variable conditions in symbiosis.
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