Increasing temperature variability poses greater threat to species than warming

Halloween pennant dragronfly.  Photo credit: Meng Kay, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Increases in the frequency, duration, and severity of temperature extremes are anticipated in the near future. Ecologists widely recognize the potential for warming temperatures to affect species’ home range and life cycles, diversity, and ecosystem functions and services.

A recent study published by an NCEAS Working Group takes a closer look at how species respond to increasing average temperatures coupled with anticipated temperature variations and extremes. Their findings show, that although most species’ fitness improves as the average temperature increases, it is the combined affect of both an increasing average temperature plus temperature variability that yields a range of responses. Species in temperate regions will be the most affected.

Increased temperature variation poses a greater risk to species than climate warming
David A. Vasseur, John P. DeLong, Benjamin Gilbert, Hamish S. Greig, Christopher D. G. Harley, Kevin S. McCann, Van Savage, Tyler D. Tunney, and Mary I. O'Connor.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2014 281: 20132612


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This work was supported by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and funded by NSF (Grant #EF-0553768), the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the State of California.

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Posted on January 29, 2014