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Studying the thermal limits of amphibians that live in streams at different elevations and stream temperatures can help predict how species will cope with climate change.

As environments across the globe continue to warm, the survival of cold-blooded animals will partly depend on their ability to tolerate temperature changes. Researchers investigated the thermal limits of coastal tailed frog and Rocky Mountain tailed frog tadpoles collected at different elevations in Oregon and Montana. Because the Rocky Mountain tailed frog’s geographic range includes a greater range of stream temperatures than found in coastal Oregon, the team expected those tadpoles to be more tolerant of both low and high temperatures. However, both species tolerated temperatures close to freezing and the upper thermal limits for both species were variable. These results indicate that responses to climate warming may not be easily projected based on simplistic models of thermal tolerance, even between closely related species.  

Cicchino, A.S., Shah, A.A., Forester, B.R., Dunham, J.B., Ghalambor, C.K., and Funk, W.C., 2023, Multi-scale relationships in thermal limits within and between two cold-water frog specialists uncover different trends in physiological vulnerability: Freshwater Biology, Online. 

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