Interactions between rates of temperature change and acclimation affect latitudinal patterns of warming tolerance

Jessica L Allen, Steven L Chown, Charlene Janion-Scheepers, Susana Clusella-Trullas

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Critical thermal limits form an increasing component of the estimation of impacts of global change on ectotherms. Whether any consistent patterns exist in the interactive effects of rates of temperature change (or experimental ramping rates) and acclimation on critical thermal limits and warming tolerance (one way of assessing sensitivity to climate change) is, however, far from clear. Here, we examine the interacting effects of ramping rate and acclimation on the critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and minima (CTmin) and warming tolerance of six species of springtails from sub-tropical, temperate and polar regions. We also provide microhabitat temperatures from 26 sites spanning 5 years in order to benchmark environmentally relevant rates of temperature change. Ramping rate has larger effects than acclimation on CTmax, but the converse is true for CTmin. Responses to rate and acclimation effects are more consistent among species for CTmax than for CTmin. In the latter case, interactions among ramping rate and acclimation are typical of polar species, less marked for temperate ones, and reduced in species from the sub-tropics. Ramping rate and acclimation have substantial effects on estimates of warming tolerance, with the former being more marked. At the fastest ramping rates (>1.0°C/min), tropical species have estimated warming tolerances similar to their temperate counterparts, whereas at slow ramping rates (<0.4°C/min) the warming tolerance is much reduced in tropical species. Rates of temperate change in microhabitats relevant to the springtails are typically <0.05°C/min, with rare maxima of 0.3–0.5°C/min depending on the site. These findings emphasize the need to consider the environmental setting and experimental conditions when assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change using a warming tolerance approach.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbercow053
Number of pages14
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2016


  • climate change
  • ectotherms
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • thermal tolerance
  • macrophysiology

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