Editor's Summary

7 October 2010

Metabolic impacts of climate warming


Organisms living at mid- to high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere have been predicted to be potentially the most affected by climate warming, as that is where temperatures have risen most rapidly. But Michael Dillon and colleagues now turn the spotlight onto the prospects for ectotherms — 'cold blooded' animals that regulate their body temperatures by exchanging heat with their surroundings — living in the tropics. Temperature rise does not have a linear effect on an organism's biology, and estimated warming-induced changes in metabolic rate for tropical ectotherms are found to be larger than, or equivalent in magnitude to, those observed in temperate climates. This work may have profound implications both locally and globally, because the tropics are an important engine of primary productivity and contain a large proportion of the world's biodiversity.

LetterGlobal metabolic impacts of recent climate warming

Michael E. Dillon, George Wang & Raymond B. Huey

doi:10.1038/nature09407