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Keywords:

  • Cline;
  • competitive fitness;
  • local adaptation;
  • temperature adaptation;
  • thermal stress tolerance

Thermal adaptation to spatially varying environmental conditions occurs in a wide range of species, but what is less clear is the nature of fitness trade-offs associated with this temperature adaptation. Here, populations of the intertidal copepod Tigriopus californicus are examined at both local and latitudinal scales to determine whether these populations have evolved differences in their survival under high temperature stress. A clear pattern of increasing high temperature stress tolerance is seen with decreasing latitude, consistent with temperature adaptation. Additionally, there is also evidence for significant variation in thermal tolerance on a smaller scale. The competitive fitness of pairs of northern and southern copepod populations were also examined under a series of lower, more moderate temperatures. These fitness assays show that the southern populations that have the best survival under extreme high temperatures have lowered competitive fitness at the lower temperatures tested, whereas the fitness of the southern populations exceeded that of the northern populations at the highest temperatures tested. Combined, these results suggest that there may be evolutionary trade-offs between performance at high and stressful temperatures and fitness at moderate temperatures in this species.