Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis

Research output: Book/ReportBook

2519 Scopus citations


Temperature pervasively impacts the phenotypes and distributions of organisms. These thermal effects generate strong selective pressures on behaviour, physiology, and life history when environmental temperatures vary over space and time. Despite this fact, progress toward a quantitative theory of thermal adaptation has lagged behind empirical descriptions of patterns and processes. This book draws on current evolutionary paradigms (optimization, quantitative genetics, and genetic algorithms) to establish a theory of thermal adaptation. It initially focuses on simple models that describe the evolution of thermosensitivity, thermoregulation, or acclimation. Later chapters focus on more complex models describing the coadaptation of traits or the coevolution of species. Throughout the book, various lines of evidence are used to question the major assumptions of these models. Furthermore, the predictions of these models are confronted with experimental and comparative data. Empirical examples represent a wide range of taxa, including bacteria, plants, fungi, and animals. The result is a synthesis of theoretical and empirical studies of thermal biology that offers insights about evolutionary processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages302
ISBN (Electronic)9780191718748
ISBN (Print)9780198570875
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Acclimation
  • Adaptation
  • Climate change
  • Performance curve
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Temperature
  • Thermal sensitivity
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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