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Harnessing the potential of cross-protection stressor interactions for conservation: A review

Rodgers, E.M., Gomez Isaza, D.F.ORCID: 0000-0003-3112-8683 and Cooke, S. (2021) Harnessing the potential of cross-protection stressor interactions for conservation: A review. Conservation Physiology, 9 (1). coab037.

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Conservation becomes increasingly complex as climate change exacerbates the multitude of stressors that organisms face. To meet this challenge, multiple stressor research is rapidly expanding, and the majority of this work has highlighted the deleterious effects of stressor interactions. However, there is a growing body of research documenting cross-protection between stressors, whereby exposure to a priming stressor heightens resilience to a second stressor of a different nature. Understanding cross-protection interactions is key to avoiding unrealistic ‘blanket’ conservation approaches, which aim to eliminate all forms of stress. But, a lack of synthesis of cross-protection interactions presents a barrier to integrating these protective benefits into conservation actions. To remedy this, we performed a review of cross-protection interactions among biotic and abiotic stressors within a conservation framework. A total of 66 publications were identified, spanning a diverse array of stressor combinations and taxonomic groups. We found that cross-protection occurs in response to naturally co-occurring stressors, as well as novel, anthropogenic stressors, suggesting that cross-protection may act as a ‘pre-adaptation’ to a changing world. Cross-protection interactions occurred in response to both biotic and abiotic stressors, but abiotic stressors have received far more investigation. Similarly, cross-protection interactions were present in a diverse array of taxa, but several taxonomic groups (e.g. mammals, birds and amphibians) were underrepresented. We conclude by providing an overview of how cross-protection interactions can be integrated into conservation and management actions and discuss how future research in this field may be directed to improve our understanding of how cross-protection may shield animals from global change.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press and the Society for Experimental Biology
Copyright: © The Author(s) 2021
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