Temperature variance, rather than mean, drives adaptation to local climate

Fabien Aubret based on reviews by Eric Gangloff and Ben Phillips

A recommendation of:
Jean-Claude Tourneur, Joël Meunier. Thermal regimes, but not mean temperatures, drive patterns of rapid climate adaptation at a continent-scale: evidence from the introduced European earwig across North America (2019), bioRxiv, 550319, ver. 4 peer-reviewed by Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology. 10.1101/550319
Submitted: 15 February 2019, Recommended: 29 May 2019
Cite this recommendation as:
Fabien Aubret (2019) Temperature variance, rather than mean, drives adaptation to local climate. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, 100074. 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100074

Climate change is impacting eco-systems worldwide and driving many populations to move, adapt or go extinct. It is increasingly appreciated, for example, that species may adjust their phenology in response to climate change, although empirical data is scarce. In this preprint [1], Tourneur and Meunier report an impressive sampling effort in which life-history traits were measured across introduced populations of earwig in North America. The authors examine whether variation in life-history across populations is correlated with aspects of the thermal climate experienced by each population: mean temperature and seasonality of temperature. They find some fascinating correlations between life-history and thermal climate; correlations with the seasonality of temperature, but not with mean temperature. This study provides relatively uncommon data, in the sense that where most of the literature looking at adaptation in animals in response to climate change has focused on physiological traits [2, 3], this study examines changes in life-history traits with time scales relevant to impending climate change, and provides a reasonable argument that this is adaptation, not just constraint.

References

[1] Tourneur, J.-C. and Meunier, J. (2019). Thermal regimes, but not mean temperatures, drive patterns of rapid climate adaptation at a continent-scale: evidence from the introduced European earwig across North America. BioRxiv, 550319, ver. 4 peer-reviewed and recommended by PCI Evolutionary Biology. doi: 10.1101/550319
[2] Kellermann, V., Overgaard, J., Hoffmann, A. A., Fløjgaard, C., Svenning, J. C., & Loeschcke, V. (2012). Upper thermal limits of Drosophila are linked to species distributions and strongly constrained phylogenetically. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(40), 16228-16233. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1207553109
[3] Hoffmann, A. A., & Sgro, C. M. (2011). Climate change and evolutionary adaptation. Nature, 470(7335), 479. doi: 10.1038/nature09670