PMID: 12095860Jul 4, 2002Paper

Climate variations and the physiological basis of temperature dependent biogeography: systemic to molecular hierarchy of thermal tolerance in animals

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
H O Pörtner

Abstract

The physiological mechanisms limiting and adjusting cold and heat tolerance have regained interest in the light of global warming and associated shifts in the geographical distribution of ectothermic animals. Recent comparative studies, largely carried out on marine ectotherms, indicate that the processes and limits of thermal tolerance are linked with the adjustment of aerobic scope and capacity of the whole animal as a crucial step in thermal adaptation on top of parallel adjustments at the molecular or membrane level. In accordance with Shelford's law of tolerance decreasing whole animal aerobic scope characterises the onset of thermal limitation at low and high pejus thresholds (pejus=getting worse). The drop in aerobic scope of an animal indicated by falling oxygen levels in the body fluids and or the progressively limited capacity of circulatory and ventilatory mechanisms. At high temperatures, excessive oxygen demand causes insufficient oxygen levels in the body fluids, whereas at low temperatures the aerobic capacity of mitochondria may become limiting for ventilation and circulation. Further cooling or warming beyond these limits leads to low or high critical threshold temperatures (T(c)) where aerobic scope disappears...Continue Reading

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