P1.206 Wednesday, Jan. 4 Variation in critical thermal limits of ant species along an elevational gradient CHICK, L.D.*; FOWLER, D.A.; SANDERS, N.J.; Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville email@example.com
Understanding the factors that limit the distribution of species and patterns of biodiversity is at the core of ecological and biogeographical research. The complex relationship between environmental conditions and distribution often relies on large-scale climatic information and macroecological data from museum records or field guides. Few studies, however, incorporate actual physiological mechanisms and measurements of the studied organisms to understand patterns of diversity and predict their distributions in a changing world. Through controlled lab experiments coupled with observational field data, I investigated critical thermal minima and maxima of 20 ant species collected at 18 sites along an elevational gradient in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Preliminary data demonstrate both within- and among-species variation in critical thermal limits, which could be correlated to species' ranges. From these data, we can attempt to disentangle the underlying factors that constrain the distributions of species, which may be critical in predicting the response of biodiversity to ongoing climatic changes.