A research project managed by the University of Granada (UGR) analyzes the impact of climate change on wildlife and the way in which animal species respond to extreme environmental conditions in a global context of warming in the future.
The results of the study revealed that thermodynamic restrictions have a more decisive weight than changes at the biochemical level in the process of adaptation to global warming, as reported by UGR in a press release.
For the development of this research, tools from ecology and physiology were combined with the intention of “analyzing how thermodynamic constraints and biochemical adaptation influence biological efficiency”, using Drosophila populations along the gradient as model organisms. latitudinal in Chile.
Ecophysiology is a biological discipline that studies the adaptation of an organism’s physiology to environmental conditions. In this area, two main hypotheses are currently being explored to understand how organisms will adapt to global warming.
The first suggests that thermodynamic constraints determine the ability to adapt to extreme temperatures. According to this hypothesis, heat-adapted populations have “greater biological efficiency” in their optimal temperature ranges compared to cold-adapted populations.
The second hypothesis thinks that it is biochemical adaptations that allow us to cope with thermal stress. In this case, different populations have “equal biological efficiency” within their optimal temperature range.
The conclusions of this work reveal that the heat adaptation of the studied populations follows a pronounced latitudinal pattern, where thermodynamic restrictions have a greater influence than adaptive changes at the biochemical level.
The group of researchers was also able to identify a close relationship between metabolism and survival, proving that thermal adaptation occurs simultaneously at different levels of biological organization. In addition, the results obtained reveal that heat tolerance increases as we approach the molecular level, which supports the idea that thermal adaptation of populations is an emerging property associated with increasing biological complexity.