Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide has resulted in scientific projections of changes in global temperatures, climate in general, and surface seawater chemistry. Although the consequences to ecosystems and communities of metazoans are only beginning to be revealed, a key to forecasting expected changes in animal communities is an understanding of species' vulnerability to a changing environment. For example, environmental stressors may affect a particular species by driving that organism outside a tolerance window, by altering the costs of metabolic processes under the new conditions, or by changing patterns of development and reproduction. Implicit in all these examples is the foundational understanding of physiological mechanisms and how a particular environmental driver (e.g., temperature and ocean acidification) will be transduced through the animal to alter tolerances and performance. In this review, we highlight examples of mechanisms, focusing on those underlying physiological plasticity, that operate in contemporary organisms as a means to consider physiological responses that are available to organisms in the future.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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