Climate change triggers morphological and life-history evolution in response to predators

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Edmund Hart, Nicholas Gotelli


Although climate change is expected to reorganize entire communities, this restructuring might reflect either direct ecological or evolutionary responses to abiotic conditions or indirect effects mediated through altered species interactions. We tested the hypothesis that changes in trophic interaction strength due to altered predator abundance have a cascading evolutionary response in a prey species ( Daphnia pulex ). Using a multiyear / multigenerational field experiment, we manipulated 12 open aquatic mesocosms to simulate hydrological conditions under climate change. After a three-year press manipulation, we collected Daphnia pulex from each pond and raised them in a common garden. Using quantitative genetic methods, we measured a series of quantitative traits every other day on 108 individuals for eight weeks. There was a significant decrease in tail spine length and population growth rate in groups exposed to the most extreme future climate scenarios. Structural equation models demonstrated that trait changes were best explained as an indirect effect of climate change treatments mediated through changes in predator abundance. Our results suggest climate change can trigger a cascade of ecological and evolutionary forces by...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Research Study
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Daphnia pulex
Population Group
Response (Communication)

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