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Thermal AdaptationA Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis$
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Michael J. Angilletta Jr.

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570875

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570875.001.1

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Thermal Sensitivity

Thermal Sensitivity

(p.35) CHAPTER 3 Thermal Sensitivity
Thermal Adaptation

Michael J. Angilletta

Oxford University Press

The performances of organisms depend greatly on temperature, with most performances being maximized within a narrow thermal range. This phenomenon stems from effects of temperature on cellular structures, such as enzymes and membranes. Nevertheless, thermal sensitivities vary among genotypes, indicating the capacity for adaptation of cellular structures to local environments. The concept of a performance curve enables biologists to quantify and compare thermal optima and thermal breadths of performance. Optimality models predict that the thermal optimum should evolve to match the mean body temperature of an organism. The evolution of the thermal breadth depends on whether performance contributes to survivorship or fecundity. Studies of various performances provide mixed support for the predictions of optimality models. The failure of these models could reflect an overly simplistic view of the tradeoffs that shape performance curves. Moreover, quantitative genetic and allelic models indicate that insufficient genetic variance or extensive gene flow prevents adaptation to local thermal environments.

Keywords:   performance breadth, performance curve, thermal optimum, survivorship, thermal tolerance, growth, locomotion, development

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