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Experimental evidence for adaptive divergence in response to a warmed habitat reveals roles for morphology, allometry, and parasite resistance
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  • Bethany Smith,
  • Ana Costa,
  • Bjarni Kristjánsson,
  • Kevin Parsons
Bethany Smith
University of Glasgow

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Ana Costa
University of Miami
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Bjarni Kristjánsson
Holar University College
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Kevin Parsons
University of Glasgow
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Ectotherms are expected to be particularly vulnerable to climate change driven increases in temperature. Understanding how populations adapt to novel thermal environments will be key for informing mitigation plans. We took advantage of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations inhabiting adjacent geothermal (warm) and ambient (cold) habitats to test whether their evolutionary divergence was adaptive using field reciprocal transplant experiment. We found evidence for adaptive morphological divergence, as growth (length change) in the non-native habitat was found to relate to head, posterior and total body shape. Higher growth in fish transplanted to a non-native habitat was found to be associated with shape profiles closer to that of the native fish. The consequences of transplantation were asymmetric with cold sourced fish transplanted to the warm habitat suffering from lower survival rates and greater parasite prevalence than warm sourced fish transplanted to the cold habitat. We also found evidence for divergent shape allometries that related to growth. Our findings suggest that wild populations can adapt quickly to thermal conditions. However, immediate transitions to warmer conditions may be particularly difficult.
31 Jul 2023Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
31 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
31 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
02 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
01 Sep 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
27 Oct 20231st Revision Received
30 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
30 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
30 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
16 Nov 20232nd Revision Received
17 Nov 2023Assigned to Editor
17 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Nov 2023Submission Checks Completed