Is global warming causing animals to shrink? Evidence, mechanisms and models

Organised by: 
  • Sjannie Lefevre (University of Oslo, Norway)
  • Timothy Clark (Deakin University, Australia)
  • Fredrik Jutfelt (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway)
  • David McKenzie (CNRS, France)

Warming of both aquatic and terrestrial systems due to climate change have been reported to cause shrinkage of some animal species, and appears to be accepted as an expected consequence of global warming. For ectotherms, the 'temperature-size rule’ has been documented across taxa, and the proposed temperature-related latitudinal differences in size (‘Bergmann’s rule’) is also a well-known principle, yet the underlying mechanisms remain enthusiastically debated. This meeting will focus on whether global warming is the causal mechanism for the observed reductions in size, and it is of great importance to assess the extent to which warming has already had a global impact on animal size, to determine the generality of the problem. Future projections must be based on valid assumptions about the underlying physiology and energetics of animal growth, and how these interact with temperature to affect animal size. There may be a universal physiological mechanism across all taxa but it is more likely that many mechanisms are at play. We hope that a cross-disciplinary discussion between experimental physiologists working on the individual level and ecologists and conservation biologists working at the population level may serve as inspiration for researchers from all interested disciplines.
Meeting highlights:
  • Global warming
  • Temperature-size rule
  • Bergmann’s rule
  • Energetics and growth
  • Physiological mechanisms
  • Ecology and modelling  
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