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Keywords:

  • adaptation;
  • climate change;
  • evolution;
  • genetic variation

Abstract

Climate change is imposing intensified and novel selection pressures on organisms by altering abiotic and biotic environmental conditions on Earth, but studies demonstrating genetic adaptation to climate change mediated selection are still scarce. Evidence is accumulating to indicate that both genetic and ecological constrains may often limit populations' abilities to adapt to large scale effects of climate warming. These constraints may predispose many organisms to respond to climate change with range shifts and phenotypic plasticity, rather than through evolutionary adaptation. In general, broad conclusions about the role of evolutionary adaptation in mitigating climate change induced fitness loss in the wild are as yet difficult to make.

Editor's suggested further reading in BioEssays: How will fish that evolved at constant sub-zero temperatures cope with global warming? Notothenioids as a case study Abstract