About this Research Topic
Environmental variation impacts physiological rates and can thereby influence fitness of individuals and persistence of populations. Changing environmental conditions can impact body temperature and thereby physiological rates via thermodynamic effects, for example. Physiological performance, such as in metabolism or locomotion, changes non-linearly with an acute change in body temperature. The resulting performance curves characterize how individuals respond to environmental change and can be valuable in assessing and predicting responses to current and future climate change.
Performance curves have been studied extensively in the past decades, and thanks to a lot of excellent research there is a good foundation to understanding how the environment affects physiological functions of individuals. Our goal here is to build on this research and address outstanding questions regarding the mutability and applicability of performance curves across taxonomic groups. Performance curves are not fixed within individuals but can shift in response to environmental changes. The mechanisms underlying these shifts could reveal the temporal dynamics of these shifts and therefore predict the efficacy with which plasticity and heritability of performance curves can render individuals and populations less vulnerable to climate change. Ectotherms respond quite differently to environmental change than endotherms because of their different physiological responses to maintain their internal environment within tolerable levels. Individuals also do not exist in isolation, and interactions between conspecifics can have a pronounced impact on fitness and populations. Individual physiology influences group behavior, and there is a need therefore to extend the concept of performance curves to social interactions and sociality.
In this Research Topic, we address the questions raised above. In particular, we aim to focus on i) molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying performance curves and ii) how performance curves may shift in response to an environmental change by either genetic or epigenetic mechanisms. Responses to the environment are likely to differ between phylogenetic groups, and we are particularly interested in iii) differences between ectotherms and endotherms. Along these lines, we also aim to iv) extend the concept of performance curves from individuals to groups of animals to ask how physiology of performance curves of individuals impact social behavior, and vice versa, and whether the concept can be applied to colonial organisms. Lastly, we propose to v) bridge physiology and ecology and explore how physiological performance curves can be applied to conservation problems.
Keywords: Environmental variation, Epigenetics, Temperature, Reaction rate, Social organisation, Conservation
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.