Rapid shifts in the temperature dependence of locomotor performance in an invasive frog, Xenopus laevis, implications for conservation
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Temperature is a critical abiotic factor impacting all aspects of the biology of organisms, especially in ectotherms. As such, it is an important determinant of the potential invasive ability of organisms and may limit population expansion unless organisms can physiologically respond to changes in temperature either through plasticity or by adapting to their novel environment. Here, we studied the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, which has become invasive on a global scale. We compared adults from an invasive population of western France to individuals from two populations in the native range in South Africa. We measured the thermal dependence of locomotor performance in adults given its relevance to dispersal, predator escape, and prey capture. Our results show significant differences in the limits of the 80% performance breadth interval for endurance with the French population showing a left shift in its limits congruent with the colder climate experienced in France. The French invasive population was introduced only about 40 years ago suggesting a rapid shift in the thermal physiology. Given that all individuals were acclimated under laboratory conditions at 23 °C for two months this suggests that the invasive frogs have adapted to their new environment. These data may allow the refinement of physiologically informed species distribution models permitting better estimates of future ranges at risk of invasion.
- RESEARCH: Measey, J