There are numerous reports in the literature of advancing trends in phenophases of plants, insects and birds attributed to rising temperature resulting from human-driven climate warming. One mechanism that enables a population to respond rapidly to changes in the environment is termed phenotypic plasticity. This plasticity grants a degree of flexibility to enable the timing of developmental stages to coincide with resource availability. If, however, environmental conditions exceed the plastic limits of an organism, evolutionary change may be necessary in order to ensure continued survival of their populations. We review evidence for phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptation in phenological characteristics associated with climatic warming. We focus this review on examples from trees, insects and birds. We found many reports of direct observations of phenotypic plasticity but fewer studies providing conclusive evidence of genetic adaptation. Evidence for changes in genes linked with adaptive traits associated with a warming climate was stronger in insects, that have a relatively short life-cycle, than in longer-lived birds and trees. Further research is required to identify both appropriate long-term data sets for a range of species and traits and suitable analytical methods, which will permit the study of the complex interaction between phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptation of organisms and their populations in response to climatic change.

Donnelly, A.; Caffarra, A.; Kelleher, C.T.; O'Neill, B.F.; Diskin, E.; Pletsers, A.; Proctor, H.; Stirnemann, R.; O'Halloran, J.; Penuelas, J.; Hodkinson, T.R.; Sparks, T.H. (2012). Surviving in a warmer world: environmental and genetic responses. CLIMATE RESEARCH, 53 (3): 245-262. doi: 10.3354/cr01102 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21343

Surviving in a warmer world: environmental and genetic responses

Caffarra, Amelia;
2012-01-01

Abstract

There are numerous reports in the literature of advancing trends in phenophases of plants, insects and birds attributed to rising temperature resulting from human-driven climate warming. One mechanism that enables a population to respond rapidly to changes in the environment is termed phenotypic plasticity. This plasticity grants a degree of flexibility to enable the timing of developmental stages to coincide with resource availability. If, however, environmental conditions exceed the plastic limits of an organism, evolutionary change may be necessary in order to ensure continued survival of their populations. We review evidence for phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptation in phenological characteristics associated with climatic warming. We focus this review on examples from trees, insects and birds. We found many reports of direct observations of phenotypic plasticity but fewer studies providing conclusive evidence of genetic adaptation. Evidence for changes in genes linked with adaptive traits associated with a warming climate was stronger in insects, that have a relatively short life-cycle, than in longer-lived birds and trees. Further research is required to identify both appropriate long-term data sets for a range of species and traits and suitable analytical methods, which will permit the study of the complex interaction between phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptation of organisms and their populations in response to climatic change.
Climate change
Phenotypic plasticity
Genetic adaptation
Trees
Insects
Birds
2012
Donnelly, A.; Caffarra, A.; Kelleher, C.T.; O'Neill, B.F.; Diskin, E.; Pletsers, A.; Proctor, H.; Stirnemann, R.; O'Halloran, J.; Penuelas, J.; Hodkinson, T.R.; Sparks, T.H. (2012). Surviving in a warmer world: environmental and genetic responses. CLIMATE RESEARCH, 53 (3): 245-262. doi: 10.3354/cr01102 handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/21343
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