Is global warming causing animals to shrink?

Speakers

David Atkinson

 DavidAtkinson

Professor of Integrative Ecology; University of Liverpool, UK

Talk title: How much will body sizes decline with warming?

The “temperature-size rule” will first be described. Then, recent high impact and controversial predictions of body size reduction by fish and other water-breathers under climate warming will be tested and contrasted with predictions of our new model, which challenges traditional assumptions about how animals grow. 

Biography:

  • 1990- present: Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Professor, Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, UK.
  • 2010: Co-Chair Gordon Research Conference – Metabolic Basis of Ecology, Maine, USA.
  • 2007-2009: Sabbatical Fellow, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, USA, and Leverhulme Trust Fellow.
  • 1985: PhD University of Liverpool.

Recent advances since my initial description and analysis of the “Temperature-Size Rule” (Atkinson 1994) include demonstrating greater warming-induced size reduction in aquatic than terrestrial species, and parallel size responses between controlled experiments and field observations across latitudes and seasons. We also test our new biological scaling and temperature-size response theory both empirically and with meta-analysis.



Sjannie Lefevre

Sjannie Lefevre

Researcher; University of Oslo, Norway

Talk title: Global warming and future fish size: what can we learn from the gill-oxygen limitation hypothesis?

Scaling of the gill surface area and the effect of temperature on oxygen demand has been used to model and project the effect of global warming on future fish size. In this talk, I will discuss the physiological basis, and outline some issues with the hypothesis and consequently the projections.

Biography:

Sjannie is a comparative physiologist with interest in adaptations to environmental challenges such as hypoxia, anoxia, hypercapnia and warming. She received her PhD from Aarhus University, and after five years of postdoctoral research at the University of Oslo, she is now a group leader, holding a Young Research Talent grant from the Research Council of Norway, and investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow the anoxia-tolerant crucian carp to cope with re-oxygenation. She has also worked on the air-breathing fishes in Vietnam and Alaska, and jumping snails in Australia, investigating the effect of warming on cardio-respiratory performance. She has published an extensive meta-analysis of the effect of warming and ocean acidification on oxygen uptake in aquatic ectotherms, and commentaries regarding the ‘Gill-Oxygen Limitation’ hypothesis.


Felisa Smith

Felisa Smith

Professor of Biology: University of New Mexico, USA

Talk synopsis:

What’s past is prologue (Shakespeare’s play The Tempest) - the idea that history sets the context for the present is relevant as human societies struggle with difficult environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Thus, my lab integrates the modern, historic and fossil record to study the response of animals to climatic challenges of the past. I discuss the effect of temperature change on mammal body size at scales from a single night to millions of years.

Biography:

Dr Felisa Smith is a Professor at the University of New Mexico. She has co-edited two books and written ~100 papers in a wide variety of journals, including Science, Nature, PNAS, Journal of Geophysical Research, Global and Planetary Change, Ecography, and American Naturalist. As a conservation paleoecologist, she integrates modern, historic and fossil records to investigate pressing environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Over her career she has worked on organisms from microbes to mammoth, but vastly prefers the latter. Most recently she has been exploring the consequences of terminal Pleistocene trophic/body size downgrading as a proxy for modern biodiversity loss.


Janet Gardner

Gardner, Janet

Division of Ecology and Evolution; The Australian National University, Australia

Talk synopsis:

This talk will present analyses testing several mechanisms that underlie observed changes in the body size of some 90 species of Australian passerine birds from the large and diverse Meliphagides  (honeyeaters, fairy-wrens, pardalotes, thornbills and allies).

Biography:

Janet’s research is focused on understanding species’ responses to environmental change, particularly climate change. Her work makes novel use of the time-series available through museum collections and bird ringing data from citizen science, with a particular focus on the ways climate change affects the size and shape of birds. She also studies behavioural responses to climate in the field. She is based in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University.


Jennifer Sheridan

Jennifer Sheridan

Curator of Amphibians & Reptiles; Carnegie Museum of Natural History, USA

Talk title: Shifts in frog size: identifying possible mechanisms using data from prior to climate warming

I present long-term size and phenology data on a species with a 9 million km2 range, and discuss how these features correlate with climate both before and after the onset of rapid climate warming, and the implications for mechanisms involved in observed changes.

Biography:

Jennifer Sheridan graduated from the University of Chicago, where a TA introduced her to the frogs of Southeast Asia. She then went on to study birds for her MS (University of Miami), and reproductive variation in SE Asian amphibians for her PhD (University of California, San Diego). Dr. Sheridan held post-doctoral research positions at National University of Singapore (NUS), University of Alabama, and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In 2014, she became Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and in 2018 she moved to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History where she is now Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles.


Asta Audzijonyte

Asta Audzijonyte

Research Fellow; University of Tasmania, Australia

Talk synopsis:

Smaller ectotherm body sizes at higher temperatures are often explained through a range of physiological constraints that limit growth. But can the temperature size rule be an adaptive response, and does it work in similar ways in temperate and tropical species?

Biography:

Asta Audzijonyte is a research fellow at the University of Tasmania, with an interdisciplinary background in ecological modelling, zoology, evolutionary biology, physiology and molecular ecology. Asta has completed her MSc at the University of Vilnius, Lithuania, received PhD at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and worked at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, USA, University of Helsinki and CSIRO, Australia. Asta’s current research is focused on the development and application of physiologically structured models to explore how climate change and shrinking body sizes of marine ectotherms might affect the function and productivity of marine ecosystems.