Title

The Power of Physiology in Changing Landscapes: Considerations for the Continued Integration of Conservation and Physiology

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Publication Title

Integrative and Comparative Biology

Volume

55

Issue

4

First Page

545

Last Page

553

DOI

10.1093/icb/icv001

Abstract

The growing field of conservation physiology applies a diversity of physiological traits (e.g., immunological, metabolic, endocrine, and nutritional traits) to understand and predict organismal, population, and ecosystem responses to environmental change and stressors. Although the discipline of conservation physiology is gaining momentum, there is still a pressing need to better translate knowledge from physiology into real-world tools. The goal of this symposium, “Physiology in Changing Landscapes: An Integrative Perspective for Conservation Biology”, was to highlight that many current investigations in ecological, evolutionary, and comparative physiology are necessary for understanding the applicability of physiological measures for conservation goals, particularly in the context of monitoring and predicting the health, condition, persistence, and distribution of populations in the face of environmental change. Here, we outline five major investigations common to environmental and ecological physiology that can contribute directly to the progression of the field of conservation physiology: (1) combining multiple measures of physiology and behavior; (2) employing studies of dose–responses and gradients; (3) combining a within-individual and population-level approach; (4) taking into account the context-dependency of physiological traits; and (5) linking physiological variables with fitness metrics. Overall, integrative physiologists have detailed knowledge of the physiological systems that they study; however, communicating theoretical and empirical knowledge to conservation biologists and practitioners in an approachable and applicable way is paramount to the practical development of physiological tools that will have a tangible impact for conservation.

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