skip to main content

Title: Constraints and Opportunities for the Evolution of Metamorphic Organisms in a Changing Climate
We argue that developmental hormones facilitate the evolution of novel phenotypic innovations and timing of life history events by genetic accommodation. Within an individual’s life cycle, metamorphic hormones respond readily to environmental conditions and alter adult phenotypes. Across generations, the many effects of hormones can bias and at times constrain the evolution of traits during metamorphosis; yet, hormonal systems can overcome constraints through shifts in timing of, and acquisition of tissue specific responses to, endocrine regulation. Because of these actions of hormones, metamorphic hormones can shape the evolution of metamorphic organisms. We present a model called a developmental goblet, which provides a visual representation of how metamorphic organisms might evolve. In addition, because developmental hormones often respond to environmental changes, we discuss how endocrine regulation of postembryonic development may impact how organisms evolve in response to climate change. Thus, we propose that developmental hormones may provide a mechanistic link between climate change and organismal adaptation.
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
2002354
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10299253
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Volume:
9
ISSN:
2296-701X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Development can play a critical role in how organisms respond to changes in the environment. Tolerance to environmental challenges can vary during ontogeny, with individual- and population-level impacts that are associated with the timing of exposure relative to the timing of vulnerability. In addition, the life history consequences of different stressors can vary with the timing of exposure to stress. Salinization of freshwater ecosystems is an emerging environmental concern, and habitat salinity can change rapidly due, for example, to storm surge, runoff of road deicing salts, and rainfall. Elevated salinity can increase the demands of osmoregulation in freshwater organisms, and amphibians are particularly at risk due to their permeable skin and, in many species, semi-aquatic life cycle. In three experiments, we manipulated timing and duration of exposure to elevated salinity during larval development of southern toad (Anaxyrus terrestris) tadpoles and examined effects on survival, larval growth, and timing of and size at metamorphosis. Survival was reduced only for tadpoles exposed to elevated salinity early in development, suggesting an increase in tolerance as development proceeds; however, we found no evidence of acclimation to elevated salinity. Two forms of developmental plasticity may help to ameliorate costs of transient salinity exposure. Withmore »early salinity exposure, the return to freshwater was accompanied by a period of rapid compensatory growth, and metamorphosis ultimately occurred at a similar age and size as freshwater controls. By contrast, salinity exposure later in development led to earlier metamorphosis at reduced size, indicating an acceleration of metamorphosis as a mechanism to escape salinity stress. Thus, the consequences of transient salinity exposure were complex and were mediated by developmental state. Salinity stress experienced early in development resulted in acute costs but little long-lasting effect on survivors, while exposures later in development resulted in sublethal effects that could influence success in subsequent life stages. Overall, our results suggest that elevated salinity is more likely to affect southern toad larvae when experienced early during larval development, but even brief sublethal exposure later in development can alter life history in ways that may impact fitness.« less
  2. Abstract

    Seasonal variation in the availability of essential resources is one of the most important drivers of natural selection on the phasing and duration of annually recurring life-cycle events. Shifts in seasonal timing are among the most commonly reported responses to climate change and the capacity of organisms to adjust their timing, either through phenotypic plasticity or evolution, is a critical component of resilience. Despite growing interest in documenting and forecasting the impacts of climate change on phenology, our ability to predict how individuals, populations, and species might alter their seasonal timing in response to their changing environments is constrained by limited knowledge regarding the cues animals use to adjust timing, the endogenous genetic and molecular mechanisms that transduce cues into neural and endocrine signals, and the inherent capacity of animals to alter their timing and phasing within annual cycles. Further, the fitness consequences of phenological responses are often due to biotic interactions within and across trophic levels, rather than being simple outcomes of responses to changes in the abiotic environment. Here, we review the current state of knowledge regarding the mechanisms that control seasonal timing in vertebrates, as well as the ecological and evolutionary consequences of individual, population, andmore »species-level variation in phenological responsiveness. Understanding the causes and consequences of climate-driven phenological shifts requires combining ecological, evolutionary, and mechanistic approaches at individual, populational, and community scales. Thus, to make progress in forecasting phenological responses and demographic consequences, we need to further develop interdisciplinary networks focused on climate change science.

    « less
  3. A formidable challenge for global change biologists is to predict how natural populations will respond to the emergence of conditions not observed at present, termed novel climates. Popular approaches to predict population vulnerability are based on the expected degree of novelty relative to the amplitude of historical climate fluctuations experienced by a population. Here, we argue that predictions focused on amplitude may be inaccurate because they ignore the predictability of environmental fluctuations in driving patterns of evolution and responses to climate change. To address this disconnect, we review major findings of evolutionary theory demonstrating the conditions under which phenotypic plasticity is likely to evolve in natural populations, and how plasticity decreases population vulnerability to novel environments. We outline key criteria that experimental studies should aim for to effectively test theoretical predictions, while controlling for the degree of climate novelty. We show that such targeted tests of evolutionary theory are rare, with marine systems being overall underrepresented in this venture despite exhibiting unique opportunities to test theory. We conclude that with more robust experimental designs that manipulate both the amplitude and predictability of fluctuations, while controlling for the degree of novelty, we may better predict population vulnerability to climate change.
  4. Abstract

    Many organisms use environmental cues to time events in their annual cycle, such as reproduction and migration, with the appropriate timing of such events impacting survival and reproduction. As the climate changes, evolved mechanisms of cue use may facilitate or limit the capacity of organisms to adjust phenology accordingly, and organisms often integrate multiple cues to fine-tune the timing of annual events. Yet, our understanding of how suites of cues are integrated to generate observed patterns of seasonal timing remains nascent. We present an overarching framework to describe variation in the process of cue integration in the context of seasonal timing. This framework incorporates both cue dependency and cue interaction. We then summarize how existing empirical findings across a range of vertebrate species and life cycle events fit into this framework. Finally, we use a theoretical model to explore how variation in modes of cue integration may impact the ability of organisms to adjust phenology adaptively in the face of climate change. Such a theoretical approach can facilitate the exploration of complex scenarios that present challenges to study in vivo but capture important complexity of the natural world.

  5. Life-history traits, which are physical traits or behaviours that affect growth, survivorship and reproduction, could play an important role in how well organisms respond to environmental change. By looking for trait-based responses within groups, we can gain a mechanistic understanding of why environmental change might favour or penalize certain species over others. We monitored the abundance of at least 154 bee species for 8 consecutive years in a subalpine region of the Rocky Mountains to ask whether bees respond differently to changes in abiotic conditions based on their life-history traits. We found that comb-building cavity nesters and larger bodied bees declined in relative abundance with increasing temperatures, while smaller, soil-nesting bees increased. Further, bees with narrower diet breadths increased in relative abundance with decreased rainfall. Finally, reduced snowpack was associated with reduced relative abundance of bees that overwintered as prepupae whereas bees that overwintered as adults increased in relative abundance, suggesting that overwintering conditions might affect body size, lipid content and overwintering survival. Taken together, our results show how climate change may reshape bee pollinator communities, with bees with certain traits increasing in abundance and others declining, potentially leading to novel plant–pollinator interactions and changes in plant reproduction.