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Rapid evolution may help species adapt to climate change and competition

A fruit fly species that has invaded and naturalized a peach tree during an experiment.Credits: Washington State University

Biodiversity loss in the face of climate change is of growing concern worldwide. Another major driver of biodiversity loss is the establishment of invading species, which often replace native species. New studies show that species can adapt rapidly to invaders and that this evolutionary change can affect how they cope with stressful climates.


“Our results show that interaction with competitors, including invasive species, can shape the evolution of species in response to climate change,” said WSU Vancouver, who joins the faculty as an assistant professor of biological science. Part-time professor Seth Rudman said. in autumn.

The results were posted in Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences “The history of competition shapes rapid evolution in a seasonal climate.”

Scientists are increasingly aware that evolution is not always slow, and often happens fast enough to be observed in real time. These rapid evolutionary changes can have a significant impact on species sustainability and response to climate change. Researchers have chosen to explore this topic in fruit flies. Fruit flies breed quickly and allow changes to be observed for generations within a few months. The team focused on two species. One is naturalized in North American orchards (Drosophila melanogaster) and the other is recently beginning to invade North America (Zaprionus indianus).

This experiment first tests whether naturalized species can evolve rapidly in response to exposure to invasive species during the summer, and then summer adaptation adapts in response to colder autumn conditions. We tested how it affects the ability of naturalized species.

“The great thing about the way we did this study is that most experiments investigating rapid evolution use a controlled laboratory system, while mimicking the natural habitat of our focus species. We used an outdoor experimental orchard, “said Tess Grainger, Center of Biodiversity, the lead author of the paper at the University of British Columbia. “This gives our experiments a sense of realism and makes our findings more applicable to our understanding of the natural system.”

In just a few months, the naturalized species have adapted to the presence of invading species. This rapid evolution has influenced how flies evolve in the event of cold weather. Flies previously exposed to invading species evolved and grew larger in the fall, laying fewer eggs, and grew faster than unexposed flies.

This study marks the beginning of studies that may ultimately affect other endangered species that are more difficult to study. “In an era of changing global environments where species are increasingly facing new climates and new competitors, these dynamics are becoming essential to understanding and predicting,” Grainger said.

Radman summarized the following big question: “As biodiversity changes and climate change and invaders become more common, what can rapid evolution do to influence their outcomes over the next century or two? These changes? In the face of

In addition to Radman and Grainger, the co-author of this treatise is Jonathan M. Levine, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University (Grainger was Posdoc). Paul Schmidt, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania (Radman was a postdoctoral fellow). The study was conducted at an outdoor field site near the University of Pennsylvania.


The key to the evolutionary success of squirrels in the face of climate change has been identified


For more information:
Tess Nahanni Grainger et al, the history of competition has shaped rapid evolution in seasonal climates, Minutes of the National Academy of Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2015772118

Courtesy of Washington State University

Quote: Rapid evolution may help species adapt to climate change and competition (February 22, 2021).

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Rapid evolution may help species adapt to climate change and competition

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