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RW Moriarty Science Seminar: Felisa Smith
February 10, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Speaker: Felisa Smith
“The crucial role of temperature on the ecology and evolution of mammals”
Just how important is environmental temperature at influencing patterns of mammalian life history, ecology, and evolution? Although mammals are endotherms, the energetic cost of maintaining homeostasis is dependent on the temperature differential between the internal core and the external environment. It is also dependent on the body size of the animal. Body size in turn, constrains the rate of physiological and ecological interactions within and between animals. Thus, these two interacting factors – body size and temperature – govern the rate by which animals acquire, process, and transform energy and consequently the allocation of resources to essential activities of survival, reproduction, and growth. Here, we investigate the influence of environmental temperature on mammals across a range of temporal and spatial scales from a single night, season, year, decade, century, millennia, to millions of years. We integrate data from modern studies, museum skins, paleomiddens, and fossils with temperature records drawn from instruments, ice cores, and fossil forams. Our investigations demonstrate the most direct influence of environmental temperature on mammals is through selection on body size.