Rapid evolution of thermal tolerance in the water flea Daphnia

Geerts, A.N.; Vanoverbeke, J.; Vanschoenwinkel, B.; Van Doorslaer, W.; Feuchtmayr, H.; Atkinson, D.; Moss, B.; Davidson, T.A.; Sayer, C.D.; De Meester, L.. 2015 Rapid evolution of thermal tolerance in the water flea Daphnia. Nature Climate Change, 5 (7). 665-668.

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Global climate is changing rapidly, and the degree to which natural populations respond genetically to these changes is key to predicting ecological responses1, 2, 3. So far, no study has documented evolutionary changes in the thermal tolerance of natural populations as a response to recent temperature increase. Here, we demonstrate genetic change in the capacity of the water flea Daphnia to tolerate higher temperatures using both a selection experiment and the reconstruction of evolution over a period of forty years derived from a layered dormant egg bank. We observed a genetic increase in thermal tolerance in response to a two-year ambient +4 °C selection treatment and in the genotypes of natural populations from the 1960s and 2000s hatched from lake sediments. This demonstrates that natural populations have evolved increased tolerance to higher temperatures, probably associated with the increased frequency of heat waves over the past decades, and possess the capacity to evolve increased tolerance to future warming.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Parr
ISSN: 1758-678X
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 01 May 2015 09:07 +0 (UTC)

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