Testing the predictability of morphological evolution in contrasting thermal environments

Pilakouta, N. et al. (2023) Testing the predictability of morphological evolution in contrasting thermal environments. Evolution, 77(1), pp. 239-253. (doi: 10.1093/evolut/qpac018) (PMID:36622731)

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Gaining the ability to predict population responses to climate change is a pressing concern. Using a “natural experiment,” we show that testing for divergent evolution in wild populations from contrasting thermal environments provides a powerful approach, and likely an enhanced predictive power for responses to climate change. Specifically, we used a unique study system in Iceland, where freshwater populations of threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) are found in waters warmed by geothermal activity, adjacent to populations in ambient-temperature water. We focused on morphological traits across six pairs from warm and cold habitats. We found that fish from warm habitats tended to have a deeper mid-body, a subterminally orientated jaw, steeper craniofacial profile, and deeper caudal region relative to fish from cold habitats. Our common garden experiment showed that most of these differences were heritable. Population age did not appear to influence the magnitude or type of thermal divergence, but similar types of divergence between thermal habitats were more prevalent across allopatric than sympatric population pairs. These findings suggest that morphological divergence in response to thermal habitat, despite being relatively complex and multivariate, are predictable to a degree. Our data also suggest that the potential for migration of individuals between different thermal habitats may enhance nonparallel evolution and reduce our ability to predict responses to climate change.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pilakouta, Dr Natalie and Lindstrom, Dr Jan and Killen, Professor Shaun and Hill, Mr Iain and Humble, Joseph and Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Smith, Miss Bethany and Kristjansson, Professor Bjarni and Arthur, Miss Jessica and Parsons, Dr Kevin
Authors: Pilakouta, N., Humble, J. L., Hill, I. D.C., Arthur, J., Costa, A. P.B., Smith, B. A., Kristjánsson, B. K., Skúlason, S., Killen, S. S., Lindström, J., Metcalfe, N. B., and Parsons, K. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Evolution
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1558-5646
Published Online:09 December 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Evolution 77(1): 239-253
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5061/dryad.bnzs7h4fb

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172724The predictability and limits of evolution to increased temperature: insights from a natural 'experiment'Kevin ParsonsNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/N016734/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
167015The Influence of Individual Physiology on Group Behaviour in Fish SchoolsShaun KillenNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/J019100/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine