The growing threat of global climate change has led to a profusion of studies examining the effects of warming on biota. Despite the potential importance of natural variability such as diurnal temperature fluctuations, most experimental studies on warming are conducted under stable temperatures. Here, we investigated whether the responses of an aquatic invertebrate grazer (Lymnaea stagnalis) to an increased average temperature differ when the thermal regime is either constant or fluctuates diurnally. Using thermal response curves for several life‐history and immune defense traits, we first identified the optimum and near‐critically high temperatures that Lymnaea potentially experience during summer heat waves. We then exposed individuals that originated from three different populations to these two temperatures under constant or fluctuating thermal conditions. After 7 days, we assessed growth, reproduction, and two immune parameters (phenoloxidase‐like activity and antibacterial activity of hemolymph) from each individual. Exposure to the near‐critically high temperature led to increased growth rates and decreased antibacterial activity of hemolymph compared to the optimum temperature, whilst temperature fluctuations had no effect on these traits. The results indicate that the temperature level per se, rather than the variability in temperature was the main driver altering trait responses in our study species. Forecasting responses in temperature‐related responses remains challenging, due to system‐specific properties that can include intraspecific variation. However, our study indicates that experiments examining the effects of warming using constant temperatures can give similar predictions as studies with fluctuating thermal dynamics, and may thus be useful indicators of responses in nature.
|Journal||Ecology and Evolution|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|