Ebene Magazine – Rapid development can help species adapt to climate change and competition

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Ebene Magazine - Rapid development can help species adapt to climate change and competition

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February 22, 2021

from Washington State University

The loss of biodiversity in the face of climate change is a growing problem worldwide. Another important factor in biodiversity loss is the establishment of invasive species that often displace native species. A new study shows that species can adapt quickly to an invader and that this evolutionary change can affect how they cope with a stressful climate.

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« Our results show that interactions with competitors, including invasive species, can influence the evolution of a species in response to climate change, » said co-author Seth Rudman, an adjunct professor at WSU Vancouver who serves as an assistant professor of life sciences coming to the faculty in the fall.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, since « competitive history shapes rapid development in a seasonal climate ».

Increasingly, scientists have recognized that evolution does not is necessarily slow and often happens fast enough to be observed in real time. These rapid evolutionary changes can have serious consequences for species persistence and the response to climate change. The researchers examined this topic in fruit flies, which reproduce rapidly and make it possible to observe changes over several generations within a few months. The team focused on two species: one naturalized in North American orchards (Drosophila melanogaster) and one that recently invaded North America (Zaprionus indianus).

The experiment first tested whether the naturalized species responded to the Exposure to the invasive species can develop quickly in summer, then tested how summer adaptation affects the naturalized species’ ability to cope with and adapt to the colder fall conditions.

« Cool thing about that The way we did this study is that most of the experiments dealing with rapid evolution use controlled laboratory systems, however we used an experimental outdoor orchard that mimics the natural habitat of our focal species,  » said Tess Grainger of the Biodiversity Center at the University of British Columbia and the lead author of the paper s. « This gives our experiment a sense of realism and makes our results more applicable to understanding natural systems. »

Within a few months, the naturalized species adapted to the presence of the invasive species. This rapid development then affected the development of the flies when the cold weather hit. Flies that were previously exposed to the invasive species developed larger, laid fewer eggs and developed faster in the fall than flies that had never been exposed.

The study marks the beginning of research that ultimately threatened effects on others May have species that are more difficult to study. « In times of global environmental change, with species increasingly exposed to new climates and new competition, these dynamics become critical to understanding and predicting, » said Grainger.

Rudman summed up the next big question: « If the Biodiversity is changing, and climate changes and invaders are more common, what can rapid evolution do to affect the results of these things in the next century or two? It may be that rapid evolution helps conserve biodiversity in the face of these changes. « 

In addition to Rudman and Grainger, Jonathan M. Levine, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (where Grainger was a postdoctoral fellow), co-authors the work; and Paul Schmidt, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania (where Rudman was a postdoctoral fellow). The research was conducted on an outfield near the University of Pennsylvania.

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Related title :
Rapid Evolution can help species adapt to climate change Climate change and competition
The rapid evolution of Species can help them adapt to climate change, competition

Ref: https://phys.org

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