Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
Temperature affects multiple aspects of an organism’s biology and thus defines a major axis of the fundamental niche. For ectotherms, variation in the thermal environment is particularly important because most of these taxa have a limited capacity to thermoregulate via metabolic heat production. While temperature affects all life-history stages, stages can differ in their ability to respond to the thermal environment. For example, in oviparous organisms, free-living adults can behaviorally thermoregulate, whereas developing embryos are at the mercy of the nest environment. These differences in the realized thermal environment should select for life-history stages to have different thermal tolerances, although this has been rarely examined. I tested the hypothesis that stage-specific thermal reaction norms can evolve independently by using southern alligator lizards (Elgaria multicarinata, Anguidae). Using incubation experiments (five temperatures: 24°, 26°, 28°, 30°, and 32°C), I described the thermal reaction norm for embryonic development and compared these results to previous studies on the thermal ecology of adults. Offspring survivorship and morphology were similarly affected by incubation temperature. While developing embryos had the same optimum temperature as adults (approximately 28°C), the breadth of their thermal reaction norms differed. My results suggest that developing embryos of E. multicarinata are more sensitive to variation in the average thermal environment than are adults. Variation in the thermal sensitivity of life-history stages might be common and has implications for how organisms respond to variation in the thermal environment. Identifying those life-history stages that are most sensitive/limiting will be important for developing models that best predict species’ responses to impending environmental change.
The University of Chicago
Telemeco, Rory S., "Immobile and Mobile Life-History Stages Have Different Thermal Physiologies in a Lizard" (2014). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 288.