thermal ecology

Thermal stress on monarch butterfly caterpillars

Ongoing climate change will continue to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events, such as heat waves and droughts, with potentially wide-ranging consequences for species interactions. Temperature and moisture availability strongly affect the development of both monarch butterflies and their milkweed host plants, but the role of extreme climate events is less well characterized.

Two plausible hypotheses in the monarch-milkweed system center on heat waves:

Physiological stress in changing thermal and oxygen regimes

Balancing energy demand with energy supply is a critical component of being physiologically robust to changes in environmental conditions; however, the inability to maintain this energy balance may limit the capacity of fishes to acclimate to multiple co-occurring stressors associated with climate change. If species cannot metabolically reorganize to reestablish homeostasis following exposure to stressors, the energy demand required to cope with shifts in environmental conditions may outpace energy supply.