14. Pawar, S., Huxley, P.J., Smallwood, T.R.C., Nesbit, M.L., Chan, A.H.H., Shocket, M.S., Johnson, L.R., Kontopoulos, D.-G., and Cator, L.J. (2024). Variation in temperature of peak trait performance constrains adaptation of arthropod populations to climatic warming. Nature Ecology & Evolution.


The capacity of arthropod populations to adapt to long-term climatic warming is currently uncertain. Here we combine theory and extensive data to show that the rate of their thermal adaptation to climatic warming will be constrained in two fundamental ways. First, the rate of thermal adaptation of an arthropod population is predicted to be limited by changes in the temperatures at which the performance of four key life-history traits can peak, in a specific order of declining importance: juvenile development, adult fecundity, juvenile mortality and adult mortality. Second, directional thermal adaptation is constrained due to differences in the temperature of the peak performance of these four traits, with these differences expected to persist because of energetic allocation and life-history trade-offs. We compile a new global dataset of 61 diverse arthropod species which provides strong empirical evidence to support these predictions, demonstrating that contemporary populations have indeed evolved under these constraints. Our results provide a basis for using relatively feasible trait measurements to predict the adaptive capacity of diverse arthropod populations to geographic temperature gradients, as well as ongoing and future climatic warming.

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