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Thermal ecology and baseline energetic requirements of a large-bodied ectotherm suggest resilience to climate change


Crowell, Hayley et al. (2022), Thermal ecology and baseline energetic requirements of a large-bodied ectotherm suggest resilience to climate change, Dryad, Dataset,


Most studies on how rising temperatures will impact terrestrial ectotherms have focused on single populations or multiple sympatric species. Addressing the thermal and energetic implications of climatic variation on multiple allopatric populations of a species will help us better elucidate how a species may be impacted by altered climates. We used eight years of thermal and behavioral data collected from four populations of Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) living in climatically distinct habitat types (inland and coastal) to determine the field-active and lab-preferred body temperatures, thermoregulatory metrics, and maintenance energetic requirements of snakes from each population. Physical models showed that thermal quality was best at coastal sites, but inland snakes thermoregulated more accurately despite being in more thermally constrained environments. Projected increases of 1 and 2 ºC in ambient temperature result in an increase in overall thermal quality at both coastal and inland sites. Population differences in modeled standard metabolic rate estimates were driven by body size and not field-active body temperature, with inland snakes requiring 1.6x more food annually than coastal snakes. All snakes thermoregulated with high accuracy, suggesting that small increases in ambient temperature are unlikely to impact the maintenance energetic requirements of individual snakes and that some species of large-bodied reptiles may be robust to modest thermal perturbations under conservative climate change predictions.


Physical model data and snake field active body temperature data were collected via Thermochron iButtons.  Snake preferred body temperature data was collection via cloacal thermocouple and data logger. 

These data are the individual iButton files that have been trimmed to exclude temperatures that were collected outside of the deployment and field active periods (i.e. when snakes or models were being transported to and from study sites) and combined into 3 spreadsheets: 1 for Physical Model temperatures, 1 for Field Active Snake Body Temperatures, and 1 for snake body temperatures from the thermal gradient/preferred body temperature trials. There is also an additional spreadsheet with snake morphometric data and the additional snake-related variables that were included in statistical models.

Usage Notes

See Thermal_MS_README.txt file. 


Gans Collections and Charitable Fund

William and Linda Frost Fund in the Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics