Precipitation patterns, along with temperature, dictate where tropical forests are distributed around the world.
Precipitation patterns, along with temperature, dictate where tropical forests are distributed around the world. Surprisingly, though, scientists know very little about the direct effects of rainfall on tropical animals.
A new conceptual framework developed by Kansas State University and University of Illinois researchers focuses on tropical systems and calls for the scientific community to formally consider the role of precipitation in tropical animals' ecological niche, which is the set of biological and environmental factors that optimize their life.
"We understand exactly how most animals respond to temperature, but the same is not true for rain," said Alice Boyle, associate professor in the Division of Biology at K-State and lead author of "Hygric Niches for Tropical Endotherms" published recently in the open access journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
"When animal biologists see rainfall effects in their studies, they assume it must be about how plants are responding to rainfall and how that affects the food supply for the organisms they're studying," Boyle said. "But there can be direct physiological consequences of rain related to feeding behavior, predation, pathogens and more. There's a lot more going on than food supply."
Continue reading at Kansas State University.
Image via Cristian Bonilla Poveda.