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Elevational and local climate variability predicts thermal breadth of mountain tropical tadpoles

Citation

Pintanel, Pol et al. (2022), Elevational and local climate variability predicts thermal breadth of mountain tropical tadpoles, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3j9kd51m3

Abstract

The climate variability hypothesis posits that increased environmental thermal variation should promote species with broader thermal tolerance breadths, while stable environments should promote thermal specialists. This hypothesis has been tested on large spatial scales, such as latitude and elevation, but less so on smaller scales which reflect the experienced microclimate. Here, we estimated thermal tolerance limits of 75 species of amphibian tadpoles from an aseasonal tropical mountain range of the Ecuadorian Andes, distributed along a 3500 m elevational range, to test the climatic variability hypothesis at a large (elevation) and a small (microhabitat) scales. We show how species from less variable thermal habitats, such as lowlands and those restricted to streams, exhibit narrower thermal tolerance breadths than highland and pond-dwelling species respectively. Interestingly, while broader thermal tolerance breadths at large scales are driven by higher cold tolerance variation (heat-invariant hypothesis), at local scales they are driven by higher heat tolerance variation. This contrasting pattern may result from divergent selection on both thermal limits to face environmental thermal extremes at different scales. Specifically, within the same elevational window, exposure to extreme maximum temperatures could be avoided through habitat shifts from temporary ponds to permanent ponds or streams, while minimum peak temperatures remained invariable between habitats but steadily decreased with elevation. Therefore addressing the effects of habitat conversion is crucial for future research on resilience to climate change.

Funding

Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, Award: AP/038788/11

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Award: CGL2012-40246-C02-01

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Award: CGL2017-86924-P

Severo Ochoa funds, Award: SEV-69

Dirección General Académica of PUCE, Award: L13227

Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, Award: BOE-A-2015-12270