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This content will become publicly available on October 11, 2023

Title: Sustained Drought, but Not Short-Term Warming, Alters the Gut Microbiomes of Wild Anolis Lizards
ABSTRACT As rising temperatures threaten biodiversity across the globe, tropical ectotherms are thought to be particularly vulnerable due to their narrow thermal tolerance ranges. Nevertheless, physiology-based models highlighting the vulnerability of tropical organisms rarely consider the contributions of their gut microbiota, even though microbiomes influence numerous host traits, including thermal tolerance. We combined field and lab experiments to understand the response of the slender anole lizard ( Anolis apletophallus ) gut microbiome to climatic shifts of various magnitude and duration. First, to examine the effects of long-term climate warming in the wild, we transplanted lizards from the mainland Panama to a series of warmer islands in the Panama Canal and compared their gut microbiome compositions after three generations of divergence. Next, we mimicked the effects of a short-term “heat-wave” by using a greenhouse experiment and explored the link between gut microbiome composition and lizard thermal physiology. Finally, we examined variation in gut microbiomes in our mainland population in the years both before and after a naturally occurring drought. Our results suggest that slender anole microbiomes are surprisingly resilient to short-term warming. However, both the taxonomic and predicted functional compositions of the gut microbiome varied by sampling year across all sites, more » suggesting that the drought may have had a regional effect. We provide evidence that short-term heat waves may not substantially affect the gut microbiota, while more sustained climate anomalies may have effects at broad geographic scales. IMPORTANCE As climate change progresses, it is crucial to understand how animals will respond to shifts in their local environments. One component of this response involves changes in the microbial communities living in and on host organisms. These “microbiomes” can affect many processes that contribute to host health and survival, yet few studies have measured changes in the microbiomes of wild organisms experiencing novel climatic conditions. We examined the effects of shifting climates on the gut microbiome of the slender anole lizard ( Anolis apletophallus ) by using a combination of field and laboratory studies, including transplants to warm islands in the Panama Canal. We found that slender anole microbiomes remain stable in response to short-term warming but may be sensitive to sustained climate anomalies, such as droughts. We discuss the significance of these findings for a species that is considered highly vulnerable to climate change. « less
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Rudi, Knut
Award ID(s):
2024179 2024157
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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