- The role of gene expression in adaptation to differing thermal environments has been assayed extensively. Yet, in most natural systems, analyses of gene expression reveal only one level of the complexity of regulatory machineries. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs which are key components of many gene regulatory networks, and they play important roles in a variety of cellular pathways by modulating post-transcriptional quantities of mRNA available for protein synthesis. The characterization of miRNA loci and their regulatory dynamics in nonmodel systems are still largely understudied. In this study, we examine the role of miRNAs in response to high thermal stress in the intertidal copepod Tigriopus californicus. Allopatric populations of this species show varying levels of local adaptation with respect to thermal regimes, and previous studies showed divergence in gene expression between populations from very different thermal environments. We examined the transcriptional response to temperature stress in two populations separated by only 8 km by utilizing RNA-seq to quantify both mRNA and miRNA levels. Using the currently available genome sequence, we first describe the repertoire of miRNAs in T. californicus and assess the degree to which transcriptional response to temperature stress is governed by miRNA activity. The two populations showed large differences in the number of genes involved, the magnitude of change in commonly used genes and in the number of miRNAs involved in transcriptional modulation during stress. Our results suggest that an increased level of regulatory network complexity may underlie improved survivorship under thermal stress in one of the populations.