J. Exp. Biol. 213, 242–248 (2010)

How animals will cope with changing global temperatures is a major question — especially for cold-blooded animals that rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. Fabien Aubret at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Moulis and Richard Shine of the University of Sydney, Australia, investigated this by raising tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus, pictured) under different thermal conditions.

They found that animals exposed to high temperatures (19–37 °C) during the first 14 months of their lives exhibited the same body temperature, locomotor speed and predator responses as those raised in cold and intermediate environments.

However, regardless of the temperature they were raised in, none of the animals was later able to respond successfully to a rapid change in ambient conditions. The authors suggest that the main impact of climate change may result from greater year-to-year variations than from an overall upward trend in temperature.