Are ectotherm brains vulnerable to global warming?

Iván Beltrán*, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Barry Sinervo, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Elevated temperatures during development affect a wide range of traits in ectotherms. Less well understood is the impact of global warming on brain development, which has only rarely been studied experimentally. Here, we evaluate current progress in the field and search for common response patterns among ectotherm groups. Evidence suggests that temperature may have a positive effect on neuronal activity and growth in developing brains, but only up to a threshold, above which temperature is detrimental to neuron development. These responses appear to be taxon dependent but this assumption may be due to a paucity of data for some taxonomic groups. We provide a framework with which to advance this highly promising field in the future.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)691-699
    Number of pages9
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


    • brain development
    • climate change
    • developmental plasticity
    • ectotherms
    • neuron functioning


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