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  1. Environments change, for both natural and anthropogenic reasons, which can threaten species persistence. Evolutionary adaptation is a potentially powerful mechanism to allow species to persist in these changing environments. To determine the conditions under which adaptation will prevent extinction (evolutionary rescue), classic quantitative genetics models have assumed a constantly changing environment. They predict that species traits will track a moving environmental optimum with a lag that approaches a constant. If fitness is negative at this lag, the species will go extinct. There have been many elaborations of these models incorporating increased genetic realism. Here, we review and explore the consequences of four ecological complications: non-quadratic fitness functions, interacting density- and trait-dependence, species interactions and fundamental limits to adaptation. We show that non-quadratic fitness functions can result in evolutionary tipping points and existential crises, as can the interaction between density- and trait-dependent mortality. We then review the literature on how interspecific interactions affect adaptation and persistence. Finally, we suggest an alternative theoretical framework that considers bounded environmental change and fundamental limits to adaptation. A research programme that combines theory and experiments and integrates across organizational scales will be needed to predict whether adaptation will prevent species extinction in changing environments. Thismore »article is part of the theme issue ‘Integrative research perspectives on marine conservation’.« less
  2. Moisander, Pia (Ed.)
    Abstract Environmental factors that interact with increasing temperature under the ongoing global warming are an urgent issue determining marine phytoplankton’s performance. Previous studies showed that nutrient limitation alters phytoplankton responses to temperature and may lower their temperature optima (Topt), making them more susceptible to high temperatures. The generality of this relationship is unknown, as very few species were tested. Here we investigated how growth rate depended on temperature at two contrasting nitrogen concentrations in six marine diatoms isolated from different thermal environments, including the tropics. Low nitrate had a significant effect on thermal performance in five of the six species. The effect size was larger around the optimum temperature for growth, resulting in flattened thermal performance curves but no shift in Topt. While that trend is independent of the thermal regime from which each species was isolated, the implications for the phytoplankton response to global warming may be region dependent.
  3. Predicting the effects of multiple global change stressors on microbial communities remains a challenge because of the complex interactions among those factors. Here, we explore the combined effects of major global change stressors on nutrient acquisition traits in marine phytoplankton. Nutrient limitation constrains phytoplankton production in large parts of the present-day oceans, and is expected to increase owing to climate change, potentially favouring small phytoplankton that are better adapted to oligotrophic conditions. However, other stressors, such as elevated p CO 2 , rising temperatures and higher light levels, may reduce general metabolic and photosynthetic costs, allowing the reallocation of energy to the acquisition of increasingly limiting nutrients. We propose that this energy reallocation in response to major global change stressors may be more effective in large-celled phytoplankton species and, thus, could indirectly benefit large-more than small-celled phytoplankton, offsetting, at least partially, competitive disadvantages of large cells in a future ocean. Thus, considering the size-dependent responses to multiple stressors may provide a more nuanced understanding of how different microbial groups would fare in the future climate and what effects that would have on ecosystem functioning. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Conceptual challenges in microbial community ecology’.