Into the wild—a field study on the evolutionary and ecological importance of thermal plasticity in ectotherms across temperate and tropical regions

Noer, Natasja K., Ørsted, Michael, Schiffer, Michele, Hoffmann, Ary A., Bahrndorff, Simon, and Kristensen, Torsten N. (2022) Into the wild—a field study on the evolutionary and ecological importance of thermal plasticity in ectotherms across temperate and tropical regions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 377 (1846). 20210004.

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Understanding how environmental factors affect the thermal tolerance of species is crucial for predicting the impact of thermal stress on species abundance and distribution. To date, species' responses to thermal stress are typically assessed on laboratory-reared individuals and using coarse, low-resolution, climate data that may not reflect microhabitat dynamics at a relevant scale. Here, we examine the daily temporal variation in heat tolerance in a range of species in their natural environments across temperate and tropical Australia. Individuals were collected in their habitats throughout the day and tested for heat tolerance immediately thereafter, while local microclimates were recorded at the collection sites. We found high levels of plasticity in heat tolerance across all the tested species. Both short- and long-term variability of temperature and humidity affected plastic adjustments of heat tolerance within and across days, but with species differences. Our results reveal that plastic changes in heat tolerance occur rapidly at a daily scale and that environmental factors on a relatively short timescale are important drivers of the observed variation in thermal tolerance. Ignoring such fine-scale physiological processes in distribution models might obscure conclusions about species' range shifts with global climate change.

Item ID: 74774
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2970
Keywords: climate predictors, insects, microhabitat environment, phenotypic plasticity, species distribution, thermal tolerance
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DP120100916
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2023 01:10
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3199 Other biological sciences > 319999 Other biological sciences not elsewhere classified @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310399 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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