Evolutionary and plastic responses of freshwater invertebrates to climate change: realized patterns and future potential


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Abstract

We integrated the evidence for evolutionary and plastic trait changes in situ in response to climate change in freshwater invertebrates (aquatic insects and zooplankton). The synthesis on the trait changes in response to the expected reductions in hydroperiod and increases in salinity indicated little evidence for adaptive, plastic, and genetic trait changes and for local adaptation. With respect to responses to temperature, there are many studies on temporal trait changes in phenology and body size in the wild that are believed to be driven by temperature increases, but there is a general lack of rigorous demonstration whether these trait changes are genetically based, adaptive, and causally driven by climate change. Current proof for genetic trait changes under climate change in freshwater invertebrates stems from a limited set of common garden experiments replicated in time. Experimental thermal evolution experiments and common garden warming experiments associated with space-for-time substitutions along latitudinal gradients indicate that besides genetic changes, also phenotypic plasticity and evolution of plasticity are likely to contribute to the observed phenotypic changes under climate change in aquatic invertebrates. Apart from plastic and genetic thermal adjustments, also genetic photoperiod adjustments are widespread and may even dominate the observed phenological shifts.

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