ABSTRACT

Temperature influences many physiological processes that govern life as a result of the thermal sensitivity of chemical reactions. The repeated evolution of endothermy and widespread behavioral thermoregulation in animals highlight the importance of elevating tissue temperature to increase the rate of chemical processes. Yet, movement performance that is robust to changes in body temperature has been observed in numerous species. This thermally robust performance appears exceptional in light of the well-documented effects of temperature on muscle contractile properties, including shortening velocity, force, power and work. Here, we propose that the thermal robustness of movements in which mechanical processes replace or augment chemical processes is a general feature of any organismal system, spanning kingdoms. The use of recoiling elastic structures to power movement in place of direct muscle shortening is one of the most thoroughly studied mechanical processes; using these studies as a basis, we outline an analytical framework for detecting thermal robustness, relying on the comparison of temperature coefficients (Q10 values) between chemical and mechanical processes. We then highlight other biomechanical systems in which thermally robust performance that arises from mechanical processes may be identified using this framework. Studying diverse movements in the context of temperature will both reveal mechanisms underlying performance and allow the prediction of changes in performance in response to a changing thermal environment, thus deepening our understanding of the thermal ecology of many organisms.

You do not currently have access to this content.