University of Tasmania

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An approach to understanding the role of maternal effects in adjusting to changes in environmental conditions

posted on 2023-05-26, 01:52 authored by Cadby-Bibari, C
Introduction - The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change Fourth Assessment (IPCC 2007) reported an increase in mean global temperatures of about 0.7 °C in the last century and predicted an increase by 1.1 °C to 6.4 °C by the end of the 21st century. Increasing temperatures have induced changes in other climatic variables such as precipitation, wind patterns and extreme events (e.g. heat waves) (IPCC 2007) as well as changes in species interactions and community structures (reviewed in Hughes 2000). The extensive tradition of monitoring plants, birds and some insects, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, allowed the detection of significant responses to climate change (e.g. Menzel 2000, Lenoir et al. 2008). Significant trends and coherent (i.e. a globally coherent fingerprint) are emerging such as earlier breeding (Parmesan & Yohe 2003; Root et al. 2003; Moller et al. 2010) and species moving towards higher latitudes and altitudes (Parmesan et al. 1999, Hickling et al. 2006; Randin et al. 2009). In the long term, these changes are predicted to increase the vulnerability of species to extinction and to create major changes in ecosystem structure and function (Thomas et al. 2004, Thuillier et al. 2005, 2011; Van de Pol et al. 2010). In Australia, we lack the long term monitoring that has allowed the detection of trends in species responses to climate change in the Northern Hemisphere (Hughes 2003). Because the impact of climate change depends on the environmental sensitivity of the organisms (Tewksbury et al. 2008; Deutsch et al. 2008; Huey et al. 2 2009; Beldade et al. 2011), the most efficient means of detecting climate-induced changes is by selecting indicator species that are highly sensitive to climate (Hughes 2003; Deutsch et al. 2008; Beldade et al. 2011). Reptiles are particularly indicated as model systems as they are ectotherms: most of their physiological processes are very sensitive to environmental conditions and underlie phenological responses and distribution patterns (Huey & Bennett 1987; Sinervo & Adolph 1989; Angilletta et al. 2002; Guisan & Hofer 2003; Arntzen 2006; Sinervo et al. 2010). For example, reproduction, foraging activity, basking behaviour, metabolism and growth rate are all processes that are very sensitive to climate and environmental factors and that are linked to fitness and survival (e.g. Huey & Bennett 1987; Burger & Zappalorti 1992; Litzgus et al. 1999; Angilletta et al. 2002; Kearney 2002; Bowen et al. 2005). Therefore, it is reasonable to predict that reptiles (and other climate sensitive species) will be affected by climate change and their persistence will depend on their ability to adjust or adapt to a new environment (Chevin et al. 2010; Sinervo et al. 2010; Beldade et al. 2011; Hofman & Sgro 2011; Hof et al. 2011).


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