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Disentangling the effects of ecology and life history on ectothermic temperature-size responses

Disentangling the effects of ecology and life history on ectothermic temperature-size responses
Disentangling the effects of ecology and life history on ectothermic temperature-size responses
Body size is considered to be one of the most important traits of an organism due to its strong links to many ecological and life history traits, and adult body size is often an important indicator of fitness. Recent research suggests that a decrease in body size is a common response to climate warming, particularly in ectotherms. However, my research shows that this is not the case for all species, with some showing the reverse response and others showing no response to temperature at all. My thesis shows that ecological and life history factors are important to consider when assessing the direction and strength of temperature-size responses across ectotherms. The overall aim of this study was to determine which ecological and life history factors may be important for determining ectotherm temperature-size responses using two representative taxa, marine gastropods and butterflies. This was achieved by using a combination of historical museum specimens (covering a temporal range of over 100 years) and modern field data. The results from the study show that factors such as taxon, developmental stage, sex and trophic level and habitat type are important for predicting temperature-size responses in ectotherms. Many species of terrestrial ectotherms, particularly insects, have been shown to increase in size with increasing temperatures. Yet, this study shows that when size is studied in relation to temperatures during each immature stage, that temperature-size responses can vary between life stages. Thus, overall changes in size will rely upon during which stage the individuals are experiencing warm or cool temperatures. Conversely, most aquatic species are expected to decrease in size as temperatures continue to rise. The results presented here, however, show that not all aquatic species respond in this way. None of the species studied decreased in size overtime, but size and shape vary spatially suggesting that the results may be a product of local conditions and not climate warming. Additionally, the work in this thesis highlights the importance of using museum collections in ecological research and the potential future applications given the technological advances such as digital collections and computer vision software.
University of Southampton
Wilson, Rebecca, Jayne
3eb91ab1-d5c4-4f0c-a5d1-8944b536a296
Wilson, Rebecca, Jayne
3eb91ab1-d5c4-4f0c-a5d1-8944b536a296
Fenberg, Phillip
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Godbold, Jasmin
df6da569-e7ea-43ca-8a95-a563829fb88a
Lock, Judith
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Wilson, Rebecca, Jayne (2021) Disentangling the effects of ecology and life history on ectothermic temperature-size responses. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 177pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Body size is considered to be one of the most important traits of an organism due to its strong links to many ecological and life history traits, and adult body size is often an important indicator of fitness. Recent research suggests that a decrease in body size is a common response to climate warming, particularly in ectotherms. However, my research shows that this is not the case for all species, with some showing the reverse response and others showing no response to temperature at all. My thesis shows that ecological and life history factors are important to consider when assessing the direction and strength of temperature-size responses across ectotherms. The overall aim of this study was to determine which ecological and life history factors may be important for determining ectotherm temperature-size responses using two representative taxa, marine gastropods and butterflies. This was achieved by using a combination of historical museum specimens (covering a temporal range of over 100 years) and modern field data. The results from the study show that factors such as taxon, developmental stage, sex and trophic level and habitat type are important for predicting temperature-size responses in ectotherms. Many species of terrestrial ectotherms, particularly insects, have been shown to increase in size with increasing temperatures. Yet, this study shows that when size is studied in relation to temperatures during each immature stage, that temperature-size responses can vary between life stages. Thus, overall changes in size will rely upon during which stage the individuals are experiencing warm or cool temperatures. Conversely, most aquatic species are expected to decrease in size as temperatures continue to rise. The results presented here, however, show that not all aquatic species respond in this way. None of the species studied decreased in size overtime, but size and shape vary spatially suggesting that the results may be a product of local conditions and not climate warming. Additionally, the work in this thesis highlights the importance of using museum collections in ecological research and the potential future applications given the technological advances such as digital collections and computer vision software.

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More information

Published date: 8 July 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 450410
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/450410
PURE UUID: 116a913e-5dc6-4b1e-b526-e4fc16388cdb
ORCID for Rebecca, Jayne Wilson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5705-6078
ORCID for Jasmin Godbold: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5558-8188

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 27 Jul 2021 17:24
Last modified: 28 Jul 2021 01:42

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Contributors

Author: Rebecca, Jayne Wilson ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Phillip Fenberg
Thesis advisor: Jasmin Godbold ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Judith Lock

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