Cold-blooded animals cannot regulate body temperature, but because they have some ability to adapt to rising temperatures, scientists hope that cold-blooded animals may be able to regulate physiological functions in order to adapt to global warming. To address this issue, researchers at the University of Berkeley and San Francisco State University analyzed 112 published studies on the Thermotolerance of cold-blooded animals, involving 232 species and 394 populations.
Researchers published an analysis in the Journal of the Royal Society of Biology in the UK. They found that, in general, most cold-blooded animals have low flexibility to withstand high and low temperatures. Fish, shrimp, crab, lobster and other aquatic cold-blooded animals have a relatively good physiological ability to adapt to temperature rise, which is twice as good as that of terrestrial cold-blooded animals such as lizards and insects.
Lead author Alex Gondsen, a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley University and San Francisco State University, said that as the planet continues to warm, cold-blooded animals will live in temperatures closer to their limits, which means they are less likely to survive the drastic fluctuations in annual temperatures. Temperature fluctuations may be more extreme due to warming.
He also pointed out that cold-blooded animals have limited options to cope with global warming because of their poor ability to adapt to rising temperatures. They either migrate to the north or to colder high altitudes, change their behavior, stay more in the shade, or evolve stronger heat tolerance. However, if global temperatures rise rapidly, cold-blooded animals may not have time to evolve the physiological capacity to withstand higher temperatures.