Both authors contributed equally to this paper.
High evolutionary potential of marine zooplankton
Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 3, Issue 8, pages 2765–2781, August 2013
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2013; 3(8): 2765–2781
- Issue published online: 12 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 6 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 30 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 27 FEB 2013
- NWO-VENI. Grant Number: 863.08.024
- National Science Foundation (NSF). Grant Number: OCE-1029478
- climate change;
Open ocean zooplankton often have been viewed as slowly evolving species that have limited capacity to respond adaptively to changing ocean conditions. Hence, attention has focused on the ecological responses of zooplankton to current global change, including range shifts and changing phenology. Here, we argue that zooplankton also are well poised for evolutionary responses to global change. We present theoretical arguments that suggest plankton species may respond rapidly to selection on mildly beneficial mutations due to exceptionally large population size, and consider the circumstantial evidence that supports our inference that selection may be particularly important for these species. We also review all primary population genetic studies of open ocean zooplankton and show that genetic isolation can be achieved at the scale of gyre systems in open ocean habitats (100s to 1000s of km). Furthermore, population genetic structure often varies across planktonic taxa, and appears to be linked to the particular ecological requirements of the organism. In combination, these characteristics should facilitate adaptive evolution to distinct oceanographic habitats in the plankton. We conclude that marine zooplankton may be capable of rapid evolutionary as well as ecological responses to changing ocean conditions, and discuss the implications of this view. We further suggest two priority areas for future research to test our hypothesis of high evolutionary potential in open ocean zooplankton, which will require (1) assessing how pervasive selection is in driving population divergence and (2) rigorously quantifying the spatial and temporal scales of population differentiation in the open ocean.