The role thermal physiology plays in species invasion

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The characterization of physiological phenotypes that may play a part in the establishment of non-native species can broaden our understanding about the ecology of species invasion. Here, an assessment was carried out by comparing the responses of invasive and native species to thermal stress. The goal was to identify physiological patterns that facilitate invasion success and to investigate whether these traits are widespread among invasive ectotherms. Four hypotheses were generated and tested using a review of the literature to determine whether they could be supported across taxonomically diverse invasive organisms. The four hypotheses are as follows: (i) broad geographical temperature tolerances (thermal width) confer a higher upper thermal tolerance threshold for invasive rather than native species; (ii) the upper thermal extreme experienced in nature is more highly correlated with upper thermal tolerance threshold for invasive vs. native animals; (iii) protein chaperone expression--a cellular mechanism that underlies an organism's thermal tolerance threshold--is greater in invasive organisms than in native ones; and (iv) acclimation to higher temperatures can promote a greater range of thermal tolerance for invasive compared with native species. Each hypothesis was supported by a meta-analysis of the invasive/thermal physiology literature, providing further evidence that physiology plays a substantial role in the establishment of invasive ectotherms.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Critical thermal maximum/upper thermal tolerance limit
  • Ecophysiology
  • Heat shock protein
  • Invasive species
  • Thermal physiology
  • Thermal tolerance

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  • Amanda L. Kelley

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