CR 43:3-15 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/cr00879

Adapting to climate change: a perspective from evolutionary physiology

Steven L. Chown1,*, Ary A. Hoffmann2, Torsten N. Kristensen3,4, Michael J. Angilletta Jr.5, Nils Chr. Stenseth6, Cino Pertoldi3,7

1Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
2The University of Melbourne, Bio21 Institute, 30 Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
3Department of Biological Sciences, Ecology and Genetics, Aarhus University, Ny Munkegade, Building 1540, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark
4Department of Genetics and Biotechnology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
5School of Life Sciences Arizona, State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287, USA
6Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biology, PO Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
7Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Waszkiewicza 1c, 17-230 Bialowieża, Poland

ABSTRACT: Much attention has been given to forecasting the likely effects of ongoing climate change on biodiversity. A large and often contentious literature has developed about how changes in species’ ranges should be modelled and how additional biological mechanisms might be incorporated to improve their utility. Nonetheless, 2 areas stand out as relatively underappreciated: the importance of understanding a species’ physiological capacities when forecasting its response to climate change, and the likely influence that capacities for genetic change across generations and changes in plastic responses, or the lack thereof, will have on a species’ response. Although perhaps not as well developed as correlative approaches to understanding species responses to change, mechanistic approaches are advancing rapidly. In this review, we explore several of the key messages emerging from the mechanistic approach, embodied in evolutionary physiology, to understanding and forecasting species responses to climate change.


KEYWORDS:  Physiological ecology · Macrophysiology · Phenotypic plasticity · Demography · Adaptation · Selection


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Cite this article as: Chown SL, Hoffmann AA, Kristensen TN, Angilletta MJ Jr, Stenseth NC, Pertoldi C (2010) Adapting to climate change: a perspective from evolutionary physiology. Clim Res 43:3-15

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