The rising threat of climate change for arthropods from Earth’s cold regions: Taxonomic rather than native status drives species sensitivity

Polar and alpine regions are changing rapidly with global climate change. Yet the impacts on biodiversity, especially on the invertebrate ectotherms which are dominant in these areas, remain poorly understood. Short-term extreme temperature events, which are growing in frequency, are expected to have profound impacts on high-latitude ectotherms, with native species being less resilient than their alien counterparts. Here, we examined in the laboratory the effects of short periodic exposures to thermal extremes on survival responses of seven native and two non-native invertebrates from the sub-Antarctic Islands. We found that survival of dipterans was significantly reduced under warming exposures, on average having median lethal times (LT50) of about 30 d in control conditions, which declined to about 20 d when exposed to daily short-term maxima of 24°C. Conversely, coleopterans were either not, or were less, affected by the climatic scenarios applied, with predicted LT50 as high as 65 d under the warmest condition (daily exposures at 28 °C for 2 h). The native spider Myro kerguelensis was characterized by an intermediate sensitivity when subjected to short-term daily heat maxima. Our results unexpectedly revealed a taxonomic influence, with physiological sensitivity to heat differing between higher level taxa, but not between native and non-native species representing the same higher taxon. The survival of a non-native carabid beetle under the experimentally imposed conditions was very high, but similar to that of native beetles, while native and non-native flies also exhibited very similar sensitivity to warming. As dipterans are a major element of diversity of sub-Antarctic, Arctic and other cold ecosystems, such observations suggest that the increased occurrence of extreme, short-term, thermal events could lead to large scale restructuring of key terrestrial ecosystem components both in ecosystems protected from and those exposed to the additional impacts of biological invasions.


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Authors: Renault, D., Leclerc, C., Colleu, M.A., Boutet, A., Hotte, H., Colinet, H., Chown, S.L., Convey, P. ORCIDORCID record for P. Convey

On this site: Peter Convey
1 October, 2022
Global Change Biology / 28
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