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Integr Comp Biol. 2014 Nov;54(5):830-40. doi: 10.1093/icb/icu016. Epub 2014 Apr 16.

Constancy in an inconstant world: moving beyond constant temperatures in the study of reptilian incubation.

Author information

1
*School of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA; School of Integrative Biology, 439 Morrill Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA rmbowde@ilstu.edu.
2
*School of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA; School of Integrative Biology, 439 Morrill Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
3
*School of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA; School of Integrative Biology, 439 Morrill Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA *School of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA; School of Integrative Biology, 439 Morrill Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.

Abstract

Variable environmental conditions can alter the phenotype of offspring, particularly in ectothermic species such as reptiles. Despite this, the majority of studies on development in reptiles have been carried out under constant conditions in the laboratory, raising the question of just how applicable those investigations are to natural conditions? Here, we first review what we have learned from these constant-temperature studies. Second, we examine the importance of temperature fluctuations for development in reptiles and highlight the outcomes of studies conducted under fluctuating conditions. Next, we report our findings from a new study that examines how the frequency of fluctuations in temperature experienced during development affects phenotype. Finally, we suggest some areas in need of additional research so that we can better understand the complex interactions of temperature and physiology, particularly in species with temperature-dependent sex determination. For questions aimed at understanding the complex effects of the environment on phenotype, we must move toward studies that better capture environmental variation. By taking such an approach, it may be possible to predict more accurately how these thermally sensitive organisms will respond to environmental perturbations, including climatic change.

PMID:
24740893
DOI:
10.1093/icb/icu016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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