SICB 2018: Plasticity in thermal physiology is important for adaptation to urban heat islands in Puerto Rican anoles

Effects of urbanization pose major challenges to biological systems globally. One example that impacts the thermal environments of urban areas is the urban heat island effect, where urbanization creates an environment that is hotter than nearby natural areas. In Shane Campbell-Staton’s talk “Temperature-mediated shifts in performance and gene expression between populations of the Puerto Rican crested anole in natural and urban habitats” he sought to investigate divergence in thermal physiology and gene expression between urban and natural populations of anoles in Puerto Rico.

In situ, he investigated whether there were differences in urban and natural microhabitats, lizard thermal tolerance between urban and natural populations, and if there were differences in thermal physiology if this was a plastic or genetic response. He found that urban microhabitats were warmer, and that lizards from urban environments maintained function at higher temperatures when compared to their natural environment counterparts. This increase in thermal tolerance is a plastic response in the urban lizards. He then investigated the transcriptomics to investigate if there is evidence for temperature-mediated selection in urban heat islands, and found that selection on ancestral plasticity may play a role in acclimation to urban heat stressors. Future work includes identify genes involved in this accommodation. Amazing things to come!

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