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Evolutionary Applications

All articles accepted from 14 August 2012 are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.   Articles accepted before this date were published under the agreement as stated in the final article.

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Edited By: Louis Bernatchez

Impact Factor: 4.569

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2013: 10/46 (Evolutionary Biology)

Online ISSN: 1752-4571

Virtual Issue - Evolutionary Applications to Climate Change


Evolutionary Applications to Climate Change


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Editorial


Welcome to the inaugural ‘Virtual Issue' of Evolutionary Applications. The goal of these virtual issues is to help readers synthesize papers we have already published which share a common theme. The topic of our first virtual issue is climate change.
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Virtual Issue

All papers are free to read and download


Adaptation, extinction and global changeFree to read
Bell G. and S. Collins. 2008

Adaptation, migration or extirpation: Climate change outcomes for tree populationsFree to read
Aitken, S. N., S. Yeaman, J. A. Holliday, T. Wang, and S. Curtis-McLane. 2008

Adaptation as a potential response to sea-level rise: a genetic basis for salinity tolerance in populations of a coastal marsh fishFree to read
Purcell, K. M., A. T. Hitch, P. L. Klerks, and P. L. Leberg. 2008

A review of quantitative genetic components of fitness in salmonids: implications for adaptation to future changeFree to read
Carlson, S. M., and T. R. Seamons. 2008

Potential responses to climate change in organisms with complex life histories: evolution and plasticity in Pacific salmonFree to read
Crozier, L. G., A. P. Hendry, P. W. Lawson, T. P. Quinn, N. J. Mantua, J. Battin, R. G. Shaw, and R. B. Huey. 2008

Clinal patterns of desiccation and starvation resistance in ancestral and invading populations of Drosophila subobscuraFree to read
Gilchrist, G. W., L. M. Jeffers, B. West, D. G. Folk, J. Suess, and R. B. Huey. 2008

Latitudinal variation in cold hardiness in introduced Tamarix and native PopulusFree to read
Friedman, J. M., J. E. Roelle, J. F. Gaskin, A. E. Pepper, and J. R. Manhart. 2008

Climate change alters reproductive isolation and potential gene flow in an annual plantFree to read
Franks, S. J., and A. E. Weis. 2009

Evolutionary response of landraces to climate change in centers of crop diversityFree to read
Mercer, K., and H. R. Perales. 2010





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Editorial

Michelle Tseng, Louis Bernatchez

Welcome to the inaugural ‘Virtual Issue' of Evolutionary Applications. The goal of these virtual issues is to help readers synthesize papers we have already published which share a common theme. The topic of our first virtual issue is climate change.

Climate models are predicting a global increase in temperature of 3-5°C over the next century (IPCC 2007). Concomitant with increased temperature will be shifts in other climatic factors such as precipitation, humidity, sea level, and CO2.

One fundamental goal of evolutionary biology is to document and potentially predict the multi-generational response of organisms to environmental change. In the context of climate change, the question then becomes, how will natural populations and communities evolve in response to climate change (Bell and Collins 2008)? Are organisms phenotypically plastic enough to withstand rapid changes in their environments, or will they migrate to follow the geographic shifts of their optimal niches? Will organisms adapt fast enough and persist in their new physical settings, or will they become overly stressed and become locally extinct?

At the individual level, the first step toward predicting how an organism may respond to changes in climate is to characterize the nature of the relationship between a species and its current environment. For example, Gilchrist et al. (2008) described latitudinal and climatic variation in physiological tolerance in one native and two invading populations of Drosophila subobscura, and Friedman et al. (2008) described latitudinal variation in cold hardiness in two tree species, the native plans cottonwood, and the introduced saltcedar.

If correlations between individual performance and the environment do exist, one might next explore how much of the observed variation in fitness is due phenotypic plasticity versus local adaptation. Purcell et al. (2008) described salinity tolerance in two populations of the fish Gambusia affinis and found that populations from brackish waters have genetically adapted to tolerate increased salinities. Similarly, Aitken et al. (2008) reviewed papers documenting that many tree species are locally adapted, and that local adaptation was governed by many small-effect genes.

For organisms like salmon, which have complex life histories and inhabit disparate environments throughout their life cycle, experimental manipulations that inform the organism’s response to climate change are more difficult to conduct. Instead, one may be able to estimate these responses based on data on the heritability of key life history traits (Carlson and Seamons, 2008), combined with data on how the various environments that the salmon encounter may be affected by climate change (Crozier et al. 2008).

There are also large groups of organisms for which we know very little about how they may respond to changing climate. For example, in their synthesis paper, Mercer and Perales (2010) ask how climate change will affect productivity, diversity and conservation of crop landraces. Many crop landraces exist in small isolated populations, so information about variation in fitness across environmental gradients and about phenotypic vs. genetic responses to environmental changes is harder to come by. It is known that some landraces tend to have relatively high levels of genetic variation, but whether this variation is enough to allow these populations to adapt to changing environments is yet to be determined.

From this small collection of papers, we can see a trend emerging. Namely, when we look for it, organisms seem to exhibit phenotypic variation that correlates with latitude or climatic variables. Additionally, heritable genetic variation exists in many of these climate-change related traits. However, as Mercer and Perales (2010) pointed out, it is not just temperature or precipitation that will be shifted by climate change. Rather, organisms will be responding to multiple simultaneous changes in their environment. Bell and Collins (2008) noted that it has been shown that natural populations often have the potential to adapt to global change but that in severely stressful conditions, rescue mutations are unlikely to be selected for fast enough, and even large populations have been documented to go extinct.

The response of organisms to climate change thus poses a great challenge for evolutionary biologists. Fortunately, the field already has a solid empirical and theoretical foundation in examining the evolutionary changes of organisms in response to environmental variation. Given the rapid nature with which global climate change seems to be occurring, there is a pressing need for more research in this area. Evolutionary Applications welcomes your best work on the evolutionary responses of organisms to climate change.

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References

  • Aitken, S. N., S. Yeaman, J. A. Holliday, T. Wang, and S. Curtis-McLane. 2008. Adaptation, migration or extirpation: climate change outcomes for tree populations. Evolutionary Applications 1:95–111.
  • Bell G. and S. Collins. 2008. Adaptation, extinction and global change. Evolutionary Applications 1:3-16
  • Carlson, S. M., and T. R. Seamons. 2008. A review of quantitative genetic components of fitness in salmonids: implications for adaptation to future change. Evolutionary Applications 1:222–238.
  • Crozier, L. G., A. P. Hendry, P. W. Lawson, T. P. Quinn, N. J. Mantua, J. Battin, R. G. Shaw, and R. B. Huey. 2008. Potential responses to climate change in organisms with complex life histories: evolution and plasticity in Pacific salmon. Evolutionary Applications 1:252–270.
  • Franks, S. J., and A. E. Weis. 2009. Climate change alters reproductive isolation and potential gene flow in an annual plant. Evolutionary Applications 2:481–488.
  • Friedman, J. M., J. E. Roelle, J. F. Gaskin, A. E. Pepper, and J. R. Manhart. 2008. Latitudinal variation in cold hardiness in introduced Tamarix and native Populus. Evolutionary Applications 1:598–607.
  • Gilchrist, G. W., L. M. Jeffers, B. West, D. G. Folk, J. Suess, and R. B. Huey. 2008. Clinal patterns of desiccation and starvation resistance in ancestral and invading populations of Drosophila subobscura. Evolutionary Applications 1:513–523.
  • IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report. http://www.ipcc.ch/ Mercer, K., and H. R. Perales. 2010. Evolutionary response of landraces to climate change in centers of crop diversity. Evolutionary Applications 3:480–493.
  • Purcell, K. M., A. T. Hitch, P. L. Klerks, and P. L. Leberg. 2008. Adaptation as a potential response to sea-level rise: a genetic basis for salinity tolerance in populations of a coastal marsh fish. Evolutionary Applications 1:155–160.

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