While the temperature effects of climate change are expected to be less dramatic in the equatorial regions, the cold-blooded tropical animals that live there may be in for a dramatic shock.
A study published this week in Nature focused on these cold-blooded animals–including insects, amphibians, and lizards–whose body temperatures are not constant, but instead rise and fall with the temperature of their environment. The researchers found that these creatures show great increases in their metabolism from slight changes in temperature; the metabolic increases were on the order of twice that of warm-blooded animals.
“The assumption has been that effects on organisms will be biggest in the place where the temperature has changed the most,” [first author Michael] Dillon said. “The underlying assumption is that … no matter where you start, a change means the same thing. But with physiology, that’s rarely the case.” [Scientific American].
This means that though climate change will be more extreme in toward the Earth’s poles, the cold-blooded animals that live near the equator (where changes should be milder) may react more strongly to the changes.