Impact of fluctuating developmental temperatures on phenotypic traits in reptiles: a meta-analysis
Raynal, RS and Noble, DWA and Riley, JL and Senior, AM and Warner, DA and While, GM and Schwanz, LE, Impact of fluctuating developmental temperatures on phenotypic traits in reptiles: a meta-analysis, The Journal of Experimental Biology, 225, (1) pp. jeb243369.. ISSN 0022-0949 (2022) [Refereed Article]
During the vulnerable stages of early life, most ectothermic animals experience hourly and diel fluctuations in temperature as air temperatures change. While we know a great deal about how different constant temperatures impact the phenotypes of developing ectotherms, we know remarkably little about the impacts of temperature fluctuations on the development of ectotherms. In this study, we used a meta-analytic approach to compare the mean and variance of phenotypic outcomes from constant and fluctuating incubation temperatures across reptile species. We found that fluctuating temperatures provided a small benefit (higher hatching success and shorter incubation durations) at cool mean temperatures compared with constant temperatures, but had a negative effect at warm mean temperatures. In addition, more extreme temperature fluctuations led to greater reductions in embryonic survival compared with moderate temperature fluctuations. Within the limited data available from species with temperature-dependent sex determination, embryos had a higher chance of developing as female when developing in fluctuating temperatures compared with those developing in constant temperatures. With our meta-analytic approach, we identified average mean nest temperatures across all taxa where reptiles switch from receiving benefits to incurring costs when incubation temperatures fluctuate. More broadly, our study indicates that the impact of fluctuating developmental temperature on some phenotypes in ectothermic taxa are likely to be predictable via integration of developmental temperature profiles with thermal performance curves.