Legacies, hard boundaries and adaptation to temperature extremes explain the variation of temperature tolerance across the tree of life

Ectothermic organisms rely on their surrounding conditions to maintain temperatures within a range that optimizes essential activities such as running, foraging and reproducing. Beyond this range, their performance or fitness decreases with a particularly fast loss of performance at high temperatures.

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Assessing lizards’ vulnerability to warming: how close should we zoom in?
To measure the habitat temperatures available to Girdled Lizards (left), the study’s authors used 'operative temperature models' (right). These models were hollow copper replicas of the lizards, with a temperature sensor inside that was connected to a central data logger. By mimicking the thermal properties of live organisms in the absence of physiological function, these models can accurately predict the temperature that a live organism would experience in the same location. (Photos by Raquel A. Garcia)

Assessing lizards’ vulnerability to warming: how close should we zoom in?

Climate data are increasingly accessible and are being used to predict which species are most vulnerable to climate change. The available datasets often consist of monthly measurements or predictions for locations every dozens or hundreds of kilometres. Can such coarse data provide realistic vulnerability assessments for small organisms?

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