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Title: Evolution of Thermal Sensitivity in Changing and Variable Climates
Evolutionary adaptation to temperature and climate depends on both the extent to which organisms experience spatial and temporal environmental variation (exposure) and how responsive they are to the environmental variation (sensitivity). Theoretical models and experiments suggesting substantial potential for thermal adaptation have largely omitted realistic environmental variation. Environmental variation can drive fluctuations in selection that slow adaptive evolution. We review how carefully filtering environmental conditions based on how organisms experience their environment and further considering organismal sensitivity can improve predictions of thermal adaptation. We contrast taxa differing in exposure and sensitivity. Plasticity can increase the rate of evolutionary adaptation in taxa exposed to pronounced environmental variation. However, forms of plasticity that severely limit exposure, such as behavioral thermoregulation and phenological shifts, can hinder thermal adaptation. Despite examples of rapid thermal adaptation, experimental studies often reveal evolutionary constraints. Further investigating these constraints and issues of timescale and thermal history are needed to predict evolutionary adaptation and, consequently, population persistence in changing and variable environments.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
563 to 586
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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