Impacts of climate warming on terrestrial ectotherms across latitude.

Program on Climate Change and Department of Oceanography and Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 06/2008; 105(18):6668-72. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0709472105
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The impact of anthropogenic climate change on terrestrial organisms is often predicted to increase with latitude, in parallel with the rate of warming. Yet the biological impact of rising temperatures also depends on the physiological sensitivity of organisms to temperature change. We integrate empirical fitness curves describing the thermal tolerance of terrestrial insects from around the world with the projected geographic distribution of climate change for the next century to estimate the direct impact of warming on insect fitness across latitude. The results show that warming in the tropics, although relatively small in magnitude, is likely to have the most deleterious consequences because tropical insects are relatively sensitive to temperature change and are currently living very close to their optimal temperature. In contrast, species at higher latitudes have broader thermal tolerance and are living in climates that are currently cooler than their physiological optima, so that warming may even enhance their fitness. Available thermal tolerance data for several vertebrate taxa exhibit similar patterns, suggesting that these results are general for terrestrial ectotherms. Our analyses imply that, in the absence of ameliorating factors such as migration and adaptation, the greatest extinction risks from global warming may be in the tropics, where biological diversity is also greatest.

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    Edited by A.K. Singh, S.V. Ngachan, G.C. Munda, K.P. Mohapatra, B.U. Choudhury, Anup Das, Ch. Srinivasa Rao, D.P. Patel, D.J. Rajkhowa, Ramkrushna G.I. and A.S. Panwar, 01/2012; ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region Umiam, Meghalaya-793103., ISBN: ISBN : 13- 978-81-920769-2-8
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    ABSTRACT: Thermal activity constraints play a major role in many aspects of ectotherm ecology, including vulnerability to climate change. Therefore, there is strong interest in developing general models of the temperature dependence of activity. Several models have been put forth (explicitly or implicitly) to describe such constraints; nonetheless, tests of the predictive abilities of these models are lacking. In addition, most models consider activity as a threshold trait instead of considering continuous changes in the vigor of activity among individuals. Using field data for a tropical lizard (Anolis cristatellus) and simulations parameterized by our observations, we determine how well various threshold and continuous-activity models match observed activity patterns. No models accurately predicted activity under all of the thermal conditions that we considered. In addition, simulations showed that the performance of threshold models decreased as temperatures increased, which is a troubling finding given the threat of global climate change. We also find that activity rates are more sensitive to temperature than are the physiological traits often used as a proxy for fitness. We present a model of thermal constraint on activity that integrates aspects of both the threshold model and the continuous-activity model, the general features of which are supported by activity data from other species. Overall, our results demonstrate that greater attention should be given to fine-scale patterns of thermal constraint on activity.
    The American Naturalist 03/2015; DOI:10.1086/680849 · 4.45 Impact Factor

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