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      Thermal-safety margins and the necessity of thermoregulatory behavior across latitude and elevation.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Acclimatization, physiology, Amphibians, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Body Temperature Regulation, Ecosystem, Geography, Insects, Reptiles, Species Specificity, Temperature

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          Abstract

          Physiological thermal-tolerance limits of terrestrial ectotherms often exceed local air temperatures, implying a high degree of thermal safety (an excess of warm or cold thermal tolerance). However, air temperatures can be very different from the equilibrium body temperature of an individual ectotherm. Here, we compile thermal-tolerance limits of ectotherms across a wide range of latitudes and elevations and compare these thermal limits both to air and to operative body temperatures (theoretically equilibrated body temperatures) of small ectothermic animals during the warmest and coldest times of the year. We show that extreme operative body temperatures in exposed habitats match or exceed the physiological thermal limits of most ectotherms. Therefore, contrary to previous findings using air temperatures, most ectotherms do not have a physiological thermal-safety margin. They must therefore rely on behavior to avoid overheating during the warmest times, especially in the lowland tropics. Likewise, species living at temperate latitudes and in alpine habitats must retreat to avoid lethal cold exposure. Behavioral plasticity of habitat use and the energetic consequences of thermal retreats are therefore critical aspects of species' vulnerability to climate warming and extreme events.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Impacts of climate warming on terrestrial ectotherms across latitude.

          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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            Mechanistic niche modelling: combining physiological and spatial data to predict species' ranges.

            Species distribution models (SDMs) use spatial environmental data to make inferences on species' range limits and habitat suitability. Conceptually, these models aim to determine and map components of a species' ecological niche through space and time, and they have become important tools in pure and applied ecology and evolutionary biology. Most approaches are correlative in that they statistically link spatial data to species distribution records. An alternative strategy is to explicitly incorporate the mechanistic links between the functional traits of organisms and their environments into SDMs. Here, we review how the principles of biophysical ecology can be used to link spatial data to the physiological responses and constraints of organisms. This provides a mechanistic view of the fundamental niche which can then be mapped to the landscape to infer range constraints. We show how physiologically based SDMs can be developed for different organisms in different environmental contexts. Mechanistic SDMs have different strengths and weaknesses to correlative approaches, and there are many exciting and unexplored prospects for integrating the two approaches. As physiological knowledge becomes better integrated into SDMs, we will make more robust predictions of range shifts in novel or non-equilibrium contexts such as invasions, translocations, climate change and evolutionary shifts.
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              Beyond predictions: biodiversity conservation in a changing climate.

              Climate change is predicted to become a major threat to biodiversity in the 21st century, but accurate predictions and effective solutions have proved difficult to formulate. Alarming predictions have come from a rather narrow methodological base, but a new, integrated science of climate-change biodiversity assessment is emerging, based on multiple sources and approaches. Drawing on evidence from paleoecological observations, recent phenological and microevolutionary responses, experiments, and computational models, we review the insights that different approaches bring to anticipating and managing the biodiversity consequences of climate change, including the extent of species' natural resilience. We introduce a framework that uses information from different sources to identify vulnerability and to support the design of conservation responses. Although much of the information reviewed is on species, our framework and conclusions are also applicable to ecosystems, habitats, ecological communities, and genetic diversity, whether terrestrial, marine, or fresh water.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                24616528
                10.1073/pnas.1316145111
                3992687

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