Developmental cost theory predicts thermal environment and vulnerability to global warming

Dustin J. Marshall, Amanda K. Pettersen, Michael Bode, Craig R. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Metazoans must develop from zygotes to feeding organisms. In doing so, developing offspring consume up to 60% of the energy provided by their parent. The cost of development depends on two rates: metabolic rate, which determines the rate that energy is used; and developmental rate, which determines the length of the developmental period. Both development and metabolism are highly temperature-dependent such that developmental costs should be sensitive to the local thermal environment. Here, we develop, parameterize and test developmental cost theory, a physiologically explicit theory that reveals that ectotherms have narrow thermal windows in which developmental costs are minimized (Topt). Our developmental cost theory-derived estimates of Topt predict the natural thermal environment of 71 species across seven phyla remarkably well (R2 ~0.83). Developmental cost theory predicts that costs of development are much more sensitive to small changes in temperature than classic measures such as survival. Warming-driven changes to developmental costs are predicted to strongly affect population replenishment and developmental cost theory provides a mechanistic foundation for determining which species are most at risk. Developmental cost theory predicts that tropical aquatic species and most non-nesting terrestrial species are likely to incur the greatest increase in developmental costs from future warming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-411
Number of pages6
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Cite this