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Thermal tolerance of Lasius americanus across urbanization and geographical gradients

Cite this dataset

Diamond, Sarah (2020). Thermal tolerance of Lasius americanus across urbanization and geographical gradients [Dataset]. Dryad.


Cities are emerging as a new venue to overcome the challenges of obtaining data on compensatory responses to climatic warming through phenotypic plasticity and evolutionary change. In this review, we highlight how cities can be used to explore physiological trait responses to experimental warming and also how cities can be used as human-made space-for-time substitutions. We synthesized the current literature and found evidence for significant plasticity and evolution in thermal tolerance trait responses to urban heat islands. For those studies that reported both plastic and evolved components of thermal tolerance, we found evidence that both mechanisms contributed to phenotypic shifts in thermal tolerance, rather than plastic responses precluding or limiting evolved responses. Interestingly though, for a broader range of studies, we found that the magnitude of evolved shifts in thermal tolerance was not significantly different from the magnitude of shift in those studies that only reported phenotypic results, which could be a product of evolution, plasticity, or both. Regardless, the magnitude of shifts in urban thermal tolerance phenotypes was comparable to more traditional space-for-time substitutions across latitudinal and altitudinal clines in environmental temperature. We conclude by considering how urban-derived estimates of plasticity and evolution of thermal tolerance traits can be used to improve forecasting methods including macrophysiological models and species distribution modelling approaches. Finally, we consider areas for further exploration including sub-lethal performance traits and thermal performance curves, assessing the adaptive nature of trait shifts, and taking more full advantage of the environmental thermal variation that cities generate.

Usage notes

Usage information can be found in the file "LasiusMetadata". This document provides information on the contents of the 4 dataset files corresponding with heat and cold tolerance values of Lasius americanus ants across a biogeographic gradient and an urbanization gradient.