Almost all cold-blooded organisms are affected by a phenomenon known as the ‘temperature-size rule’, which describes how individuals of the same species reach a smaller adult size when reared at warmer temperatures. But until now, scientists have not fully understood how these size changes take place.
Writing in the journal The American Naturalist, Dr Andrew Hirst and colleagues from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explore this unusual shrinking effect in more detail, and show conclusively how it occurs.
Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the study was carried out using data on marine planktonic copepods. These tiny crustaceans are the main animal plankton in the world’s oceans and are important grazers of smaller plankton and a food source for larger fish, birds and marine mammals.
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How Global Warming Could Cause Animals to Shrink