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Tackling the challenges of survival in a changing world

With the failure of the Copenhagen summit to draft a legally binding agreement on the reduction of global CO2 emission rates, it seems almost certain that we will see further rapid changes in the global climate. So how are we going to identify and protect the planet's most vulnerable species at this time of unprecedented change? In a specially commissioned series of review articles published on 26 February 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Biology (, leading researchers in the fields of biogeography and environmental physiology lay out the challenges that many organisms will face, changes that are already being documented and the possibilities of predicting which populations will be most threatened by climate change.

Edited by Malcolm Gordon (University of California, Los Angeles), Brian Barnes (The University of Alaska Fairbanks), Katsufumi Sato (University of Tokyo) and Hans Hoppeler (University of Bern), the collection covers issues ranging from the effects of climate change on vegetation distributions, bird, insect and marine populations to the responses of corals and amphibians to environmental change.

Considering the scale of the ecological disaster that we currently face and the role that environmental physiologists are playing documenting the effects, Gordon says 'Environmental physiologists have never been better poised to influence global conservation policy.'

The collection includes contributions from

  • Glen McDonald (University of California, Los Angeles, USA): Global warming and the Arctic: a new world beyond the reach of the Grinnellian niche?

  • Frank La Sorte (Yale University, USA): Avian distributions under climate change: towards improved projections

  • Ary Hoffmann (The University of Melbourne, Australia): Physiological climatic limits in Drosophila: patterns and implications

  • Hans-Otto Prtner (Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Germany): Oxygen- and capacity-limitation of thermal tolerance: a matrix for integrating climate-related stressor effects in marine ecosystems

  • Shaun Wilson (Department of Environment and Conservation, Australia): Crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes

  • Annette Broderick (University of Exeter, UK): Predicting the impacts of climate change on a globally distributed species: the case of the loggerhead turtle

  • George Somero (Hopkins Marine Station, USA): The physiology of climate change: how potentials for acclimatization and genetic adaptation will determine 'winners' and 'losers'

  • Tyrone Hayes (University of California, Berkeley, USA): The cause of global amphibian declines: a developmental endocrinologist's perspective

  • Laura Mydlarz (University of Texas at Arlington, USA) What are the physiological and immunological responses of coral to climate warming and disease?

  • Walter Tabachnick (University of Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, USA): Challenges in predicting climate and environmental effects on vector-borne disease episystems in a changing world

  • Ravinder Sehgal (San Francisco State University, USA): Deforestation and avian infectious diseases

  • Pieter Johnson (University of Colorado, USA): Diversity, decoys and the dilution effect: how ecological communities affect disease risk

  • Lars Tomanek (California Polytechnic State University, USA): Variation in the heat shock response and its implication for predicting the effect of global climate change on species' biogeographical distribution ranges and metabolic costs

  • Jeff Bale (The University of Birmingham, UK): Insect overwintering in a changing climate

  • Brian Helmuth (University of South Carolina, USA): Organismal climatology: analyzing environmental variability at scales relevant to physiological stress


Contact: Kathryn Knight
The Company of Biologists

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