The capacity to tolerate climate change often varies across ontogeny in organisms with complex life cycles. Recently developed species distribution models incorporate traits across life stages; however, these life-cycle models primarily evaluate effects of lethal change. Here, we examine impacts of recurrent sublethal warming on development and survival in ecological projections of climate change. We reared lizard embryos in the laboratory under temperature cycles that simulated contemporary conditions and warming scenarios. We also artificially warmed natural nests to mimic laboratory treatments. In both cases, recurrent sublethal warming decreased embryonic survival and hatchling sizes. Incorporating survivorship results into a mechanistic species distribution model reduced annual survival by up to 24% compared to models that did not incorporate sublethal warming. Contrary to models without sublethal effects, our model suggests that modest increases in developmental temperatures influence species ranges due to effects on survivorship.
Carlo, M. A., Riddell, E. A., Levy, O. and Sears, M. W. (2018), Recurrent sublethal warming reduces embryonic survival, inhibits juvenile growth, and alters species distribution projections under climate change. Ecol Lett, 21: 104–116. doi:10.1111/ele.12877