Recent research within Environmental Physiology reflects an increasing demand for individuals to travel to extreme environments for competition, deployment, research and exertions, due to factors such as globalisation and inter-continental competition (Hayes et al., 2014; White et al., 2014; Chalmers et al., 2014). However, it is well established that these environments are associated with elevated physiological strain, which subsequently hinders performance and compromises health (Lee et al., 2016; Heled et al., 2012).
Previous literature generally accepts that prior acclimation, chronic or repeated exposure to an environmental stressor, is necessary to suppress detrimental environment-specific responses and to maintain homeostasis (Eagan et al., 2001; Ely et al., 2014). However, acclimation to a singular stressor is often not possible or inadequate due to logistical impracticalities (White et al., 2014; Gibson et al., 2017). Tipton, (2012) and Neal et al., (2017) also recognise that individuals’ frequently experience environmental stressors in combination.
The concept of cross-adaptation advocates that acclimation to a singular environmental stressor, could translate to an attenuated physiological strain and enhanced cellular tolerance to another similar stressor, if the stressors share adaptive pathways (Lee et al., 2016; Gibson et al., 2017). From a practical perspective cross-adaptation would reduce the need for environment-specific training and subsequently reduce the detrimental ‘costs’ associated with these types of acclimation (Taylor et al., 2011). Cross-adaptation is a recent phenomenon; the concept therefore prompts contemporary research hypotheses, which leads to the aim of this thesis. This thesis will explore acute and chronic aspects of cross-adaptation, with the intention of impacting a specific population.