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Veromessor smithi, climate change, native species, respiration, thermal performance, desert, Bernard Field Station


Understanding the effect of temperature on individual species will help us to predict how climate change impacts ecosystems. We used respiration to assess the effect of temperature on the performance of Veromessor smithi harvester ants. Because V. smithi are native to desert areas, we hypothesized that the harvester ants would perform better at higher temperatures, resulting in an increase in respiration. Further, we predicted that the optimum respiration temperature of V. smithi would be approximately 55 °C, which is the optimum respiration temperature of other desert ants. The level of oxygen consumption at 45 °C, the highest temperature tested, was about twice as much than at any of the other temperatures. However, we did not find evidence of a linear correlation between temperature and respiration. Our results suggest that respiration increases with temperature, though further analysis is needed to determine the optimum respiration temperature.

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