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Upper Temperature Limits of Tropical Marine Ectotherms: Global Warming Implications


Nguyen, KDT and Morley, SA and Lai, CH and Clark, MS and Tan, KS and Bates, AE and Peck, LS, Upper Temperature Limits of Tropical Marine Ectotherms: Global Warming Implications, PLoS One, 6, (12) pp. e29340. ISSN 1932-6203 (2011) [Refereed Article]


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Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029340


Animal physiology, ecology and evolution are affected by temperature and it is expected that community structure will be strongly influenced by global warming. This is particularly relevant in the tropics, where organisms are already living close to their upper temperature limits and hence are highly vulnerable to rising temperature. Here we present data on upper temperature limits of 34 tropical marine ectotherm species from seven phyla living in intertidal and subtidal habitats. Short term thermal tolerances and vertical distributions were correlated, i.e., upper shore animals have higher thermal tolerance than lower shore and subtidal animals; however, animals, despite their respective tidal height, were susceptible to the same temperature in the long term. When temperatures were raised by 1uC hour21, the upper lethal temperature range of intertidal ectotherms was 41–52uC, but this range was narrower and reduced to 37–41uC in subtidal animals. The rate of temperature change, however, affected intertidal and subtidal animals differently. In chronic heating experiments when temperature was raised weekly or monthly instead of every hour, upper temperature limits of subtidal species decreased from 40uC to 35.4uC, while the decrease was more than 10uC in high shore organisms. Hence in the long term, activity and survival of tropical marine organisms could be compromised just 2–3uC above present seawater temperatures. Differences between animals from environments that experience different levels of temperature variability suggest that the physiological mechanisms underlying thermal sensitivity may vary at different rates of warming.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Bates, AE (Dr Amanda Bates)
ID Code:76329
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:140
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2012-03-05
Last Modified:2012-06-21
Downloads:342 View Download Statistics

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