Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can evolution outpace climate change? Tiny seashore animal suggests not

Date:
June 9, 2011
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
Animals and plants may not be able to evolve their way out of the threat posed by climate change, according to a new study of a tiny seashore animal.

The tide pool copepod Tigriopus californicus is found from Alaska to Baja California -- but in a unique lab study at UC Davis, the animals showed little ability to evolve heat tolerance over 10 generations.
Credit: Morgan Kelly, UC Davis

Animals and plants may not be able to evolve their way out of the threat posed by climate change, according to a UC Davis study of a tiny seashore animal. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Related Articles


The tide pool copepod Tigriopus californicus is found from Alaska to Baja California -- but in a unique lab study, the animals showed little ability to evolve heat tolerance.

"This is a question a lot of scientists have been talking about," said study co-author Eric Sanford, an associate professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and a researcher at the university's Bodega Marine Laboratory. "Do organisms have the ability to adapt to climate change on a timescale of decades?"

UC Davis graduate student Morgan Kelly, the first author of the paper, collected copepods from eight locations between Oregon and Baja California in Mexico. The tiny shrimplike animals, about a millimeter long, live in tide pools on rocky outcrops high in the splash zone.

Kelly grew the short-lived copepods in the lab for 10 generations, subjecting them to increased heat stress to select for more heat-tolerant animals.

At the outset, copepods from different locations showed wide variability in heat tolerance. But within those populations, Kelly was able to coax only about a half-degree Celsius (about one degree Fahrenheit) of increased heat tolerance over 10 generations. And in most groups, the increase in heat tolerance had hit a plateau before that point.

In the wild, these copepods can withstand a temperature swing of 20 degrees Celsius a day, Kelly said. But they may be living at the edge of their tolerance, she said.

Although the copepods are widespread geographically, individual populations are very isolated, confined to a single rocky outcrop where wave splash can carry them between pools. That means there is very little flow of new genes across the population as a whole.

"It's been assumed that widespread species have a lot of genetic capacity to work with, but this study shows that may not be so," said co-author Rick Grosberg, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis. Many other species of animals, birds and plants face stress from climate change, and their habitats have also been fragmented by human activity -- perhaps more than we realize, he said.

"The critical point is that many organisms are already at their environmental limits, and natural selection won't necessarily rescue them," Grosberg said.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. W. Kelly, E. Sanford, R. K. Grosberg. Limited potential for adaptation to climate change in a broadly distributed marine crustacean. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0542

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Can evolution outpace climate change? Tiny seashore animal suggests not." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608161539.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2011, June 9). Can evolution outpace climate change? Tiny seashore animal suggests not. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608161539.htm
University of California - Davis. "Can evolution outpace climate change? Tiny seashore animal suggests not." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110608161539.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Un-Bee-Lievable: Bees on the Loose After Washington Truck Crash

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 17, 2015) A truck carrying honey bees overturns near Lynnwood, Washington, spreading boxes of live bees across the highway. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

Dog Flu Spreading in Midwestern States

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Dog flu is spreading in several Midwestern states. Dog daycare centers and veterinary offices are taking precautions. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Raw: Rare Whale Spotted in Gulf of Mexico

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers from the E/V Nautilus had quite a surprise Tuesday, when a curious sperm whale swam around their remotely operated vehicle in the Gulf of Mexico. Cameras captured the encounter. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins