Newts are threatened by climate change. They defend themselves at different metabolic rates – Earth – Science and technology

As with humans, salamanders have individuals who “burn” faster what they eat. Individual differences in metabolic rate have now been confirmed by scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (AS CR).

They found that salamanders with faster “burning” are more physically active and have a better chance of finding food and a partner. However, this benefit only applies in an environment with sufficient resources. In addition, it has its downsides – for example, a greater risk of detecting predators. The research was published in a journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Newt or mountain salamander or common toad. Until a few decades ago, completely ordinary inhabitants of forests, river and pond areas, even near cities. Today, they are becoming increasingly rare and the question is how much they will be able to adapt to global climate change. Lumír Gvoždík’s team has been studying their adaptation possibilities for a long time at the workplace Institute of Vertebrate Biology AS CR in Studenec na Vysočine.

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The fat will be poor, the poor will be cold

One of the key features that amphibians are focusing on amphibians is the so-called standard metabolism. This fundamentally affects their ability to survive under certain conditions and to reproduce successfully. A method called respirometry is used, among other things, to determine the rate of metabolism. It monitors the oxygen consumption of both animals breathing atmospheric oxygen (adult salamanders) and organisms in the stages in which they receive oxygen dissolved in water (larvae). The obtained data are further analyzed and compared by experts.

“Using modern statistical approaches, we have shown that individuals with faster metabolism are more active in the salamander population, and those with slower metabolism are less active, thus finally confirming one of the basic assumptions of the body’s energy management model,” comments the leader’s unique research. group Lumír Gvoždík.

Scientists are examining adult salamanders as well as young. Photo: AS CR

salamander and hand Scientists are examining adult salamanders as well as young.

However, when there are few food sources in the environment, a more efficient metabolism is slower, one that saves energy. Thus, as Lumír Gvožík recalls the old adage “the poor will be fat, the poor will be cold”.

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Repeated experiments

The researchers measured resting metabolism and locomotor activity in sixty-two mountain salamander pups a total of four times. Always twice at two different temperatures – at 12 ° C and 22 ° C. Ambient temperature is very important for cold-blooded organisms and greatly affects their metabolism and behavior. “We obtained almost five hundred measurements, which is a completely unique dataset,” says Senka Baškiera, a doctoral student who is involved in the research.

“Repeated measurements at two temperatures proved to be key to the success of this study, as we were the first to find that body temperature affects the proportion of individual repeatability for each trait differently,” adds Lumír Gvoždík. The relationship between metabolism and physical activity could only be determined by a joint analysis of the results from both temperatures.

They adapt or become extinct

With regard to climate change, amphibians (not only) have basically three options: adapt, relocate, or become extinct. However, migration is becoming increasingly difficult as obstacles arise in the country, such as roads and motorways, industrial zones or pesticide-treated monocultures. So if amphibians are not to become extinct, they must adapt.

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Individual population differences are an important but hitherto little-studied strategy by which cold-blooded animals cope with unpredictable changes in environmental conditions. The study of differences is very important in all areas of research, where flexible features are worked at the level of the whole organism (eg physiology, ethology or ecology). For many physiological and behavioral traits, the differences are surprisingly small and most of the measured traits are the result of the immediate influence of various environmental factors. Thus, ignoring them can easily lead to misleading conclusions.

“Individual variability, ie differences between individuals within a population, in metabolic and behavioral traits can reduce the likelihood of an extinction of a population under unpredictable changes in environmental conditions. Further research in this area is therefore important for understanding the impact of climate change on the populations of not only salamanders, but also other species of cold-blooded animals, “concludes Lumír Gvoždík.

Terrariums and aquariums with hoses and appliances

The possibilities of adapting salamanders to changing conditions are being investigated in Studenec, in laboratories inhabited by dozens of salamanders. In one of the rooms there is a row of containers filled with water and aquarium plants, the other row consists of terrariums. Newts live in the water at the time of mating and in the stages of eggs and embryos, and there are young individuals and adults in terrariums on land.

The research is gentle. “We do not kill salamanders or interfere with their integrity, which is an important condition for research on legally protected species,” said Lumír Gvoždík.

Source: Leona Matušková, Division of External Relations of the SSČ AS CR

Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by

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