Rapid change in the thermal tolerance of a tropical lizard.
The predominant view is that the thermal physiology of tropical ectotherms, including lizards, is not labile over ecological timescales. We used the recent introduction (∼35 years ago) of the Puerto Rican lizard Anolis cristatellus to Miami, Florida, to test this thermal rigidity hypothesis. We measured lower (critical thermal minimum [CT(min)]) and upper (critical thermal maximum [CT(max)]) thermal tolerances and found that the introduced population tolerates significantly colder temperatures (by ∼3°C) than does the Puerto Rican source population; however, CT(max) did not differ. These results mirror the thermal regimes experienced by each population: Miami reaches colder ambient temperatures than Puerto Rico, but maximum ambient temperatures are similar. The differences in CT(min) were observed even though lizards from both sites experienced nearly identical conditions for 49 days before CT(min) measurement. Our results demonstrate that changes in thermal tolerance occurred relatively rapidly (∼35 generations), which strongly suggests that the thermal physiology of tropical lizards is more labile than previously proposed.
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