loading page

Rapid adaptive evolution to drought in a subset of plant traits in a large-scale climate change experiment
  • +5
  • Johannes Metz,
  • Christian Lampei,
  • Laura Bäumler,
  • Herve Bocherens,
  • Hannes Dittberner,
  • Lorenz Henneberg,
  • Juliette de Meaux,
  • Katja Tielbörger
Johannes Metz
University of Hildesheim
Author Profile
Christian Lampei
University of Münster, University of Muenster
Author Profile
Laura Bäumler
University of Tübingen
Author Profile
Herve Bocherens
University of Tübingen
Author Profile
Hannes Dittberner
University of Cologne
Author Profile
Lorenz Henneberg
University of Tübingen
Author Profile
Juliette de Meaux
University of Cologne
Author Profile
Katja Tielbörger
University of Tübingen
Author Profile

Abstract

Rapid evolution of traits and of plasticity may enable adaptation to climate change, yet solid experimental evidence under natural conditions is scarce. Here, we imposed rainfall manipulations (+30%, control, -30%) for ten years on entire natural plant communities in two Eastern Mediterranean sites. Additional sites along a natural rainfall gradient and selection analyses in a greenhouse assessed whether potential responses were adaptive. In both sites, our annual target species Biscutella didyma consistently evolved earlier phenology and higher reproductive allocation under drought. Multiple arguments suggest that this response was adaptive: it aligned with theory, corresponding trait shifts along the natural rainfall gradient, and selection analyses under differential watering in the greenhouse. However, another seven candidate traits did not evolve, and there was little support for evolution of plasticity. Our results provide compelling evidence for rapid adaptive evolution under climate change. Yet, several non-evolving traits may indicate potential constraints to full adaptation.

Peer review status:Published

15 Jun 2020Submitted to Ecology Letters
16 Jun 2020Assigned to Editor
16 Jun 2020Submission Checks Completed
18 Jun 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
15 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Accept
27 Aug 2020Published in Ecology Letters. 10.1111/ele.13596