Westminster, Colo. (August 4, 2010) In trying to predict how species will respond to climate change caused by global warming, researchers and scientists are turning to comparative physiology, a sub-discipline of physiology that studies how different organisms function and adapt to diverse and changing environments. By comparing different species to each other, as well as to members within a species that live in different environments, researchers are learning which physiologic features establish environmental optima and tolerance limits. This approach gives the scientific community a "crystal ball" for predicting the effects of global warming, according to George N. Somero, Associate Director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station.
Dr. Somero will discuss the benefits of the comparative approach at the 2010 American Physiological Society's (www.the-APS.org) Intersociety Meeting in Westminster, Colo., August 4-7. He will deliver the plenary lecture of the conference, entitled Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World. The lecture will focus on work done by his team and others with ectothermic marine speciesspecies whose body temperatures change in response to their environment and are commonly referred to as "cold-blooded."
Heat's Effect on Adaptation in Porcelain Crabs
According to Dr. Somero, the comparative approach can provide insight into the ways in which past evolution under different climatic conditions determines a species' likelihood of survival in a warming world. For example, thermal tolerance limitsthe highest and lowest temperatures at which an organism can survivediffer among closely related species of porcelain crab: Tropical species are far more heat-tolerant than their counterparts in temperate climates.
One might expect the heat-tolerant tropical crab to have an advantage over their temperate cousins when it comes
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American Physiological Society