Genetic erosion impedes adaptive responses to stressful environments

  title={Genetic erosion impedes adaptive responses to stressful environments},
  author={Rudolf Bijlsma and Volker Loeschcke},
  journal={Evolutionary Applications},
  pages={117 - 129}
Biodiversity is increasingly subjected to human‐induced changes of the environment. To persist, populations continually have to adapt to these often stressful changes including pollution and climate change. Genetic erosion in small populations, owing to fragmentation of natural habitats, is expected to obstruct such adaptive responses: (i) genetic drift will cause a decrease in the level of adaptive genetic variation, thereby limiting evolutionary responses; (ii) inbreeding and the concomitant… 

Microevolutionary dynamics and genetic erosion in pollution-affected Chironomus populations

The results presented in this thesis aim to stimulate discussion on the suitability of C. riparius as a model species in evolutionary ecotoxicology studies as well as the sensitivity and robustness of genetic diversity measures as indicators of environmental quality in ecological risk assessment.

Adaptive introgression as a resource for management and genetic conservation in a changing climate

  • J. HamiltonJoshua M. Miller
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
  • 2016
Despite the near dismissal of the potential benefits of hybridization by conservation practitioners, a number of case studies that suggest gene flow between sympatric or parapatric sister species or within species that exhibit strong ecotypic differentiation may represent an underutilized management option to conserve evolutionary potential in a changing environment are examined.


The consequences of inbreeding on evolutionary potential (the ability to increase cold resistance) in a laboratory population of the tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana are investigated, with results indicating reduced evolutionary potential and thereby constraints on evolution.

Adaptive introgression : a resource for management and genetic conservation in a changing climate Running head : Adaptive introgression and conservation

The proposition that gene flow between sympatric or parapatric sister species or within species that exhibit strong ecotypic differentiation may represent an underutilized management option to conserve evolutionary potential in a changing environment is concluded.

Stress tolerance and population stability of rock pool Daphnia in relation to local conditions and population isolation

It is shown that long-term population stability in the field decreased with population isolation, indicating that natural populations experience a variety of stresses; thus, population isolation and genetic diversity may stabilize population dynamics over larger spatiotemporal scales.

Next‐generation metrics for monitoring genetic erosion within populations of conservation concern

The use of quantitative metrics to detect and monitor genetic erosion is explored and prospects for the integration of this new information and metrics into conservation monitoring programmes are discussed.

Changing environments and genetic variation: inbreeding does not compromise short-term physiological responses

Low genetic diversity in naturally inbred populations may not compromise fitness or short-term capacity for appropriate physiological responses to environmental change, suggesting the absence of natural costs of inbreeding could help to explain the global success of clonal or asexual mating strategies for adapting to a wide range of environments.

Evaluating the Relative Importance of Habitat and Genetic Predictors of Fitness Correlates and the Effectiveness of Genetic Monitoring Tools for Populations Experiencing Novel Environmental Change

  • M. Yates
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • 2018
The research demonstrates that habitat is the primary predictor of fitness correlates in novel environments, with Nc, Nb, and Ho explaining little variation in performance or plasticity across studies.

Mixed evidence for adaptation to environmental pollution

The need for long‐term monitoring programs on exposed populations that link demography to phenotypic, genetic, and selection assays is emphasized, and the use of standardized protocols across studies especially for similar taxa is emphasized.



Adaptation and Evolutionary Rescue in Metapopulations Experiencing Environmental Deterioration

It is found that adaptation was favored by gradual deterioration and local dispersal, and the frequency of evolutionary rescue depended on both the prior rate of deterioration and the rate of dispersal.

Evolutionary rescue can prevent extinction following environmental change.

It is shown that ER is possible, and that the recovery of the population may occur within 25 generations, and a clear threshold in population size is observed whereby the ancestral population size must be sufficiently large to counter stochastic extinction and contain resistant individuals.

Molecular ecology of global change

The genetic basis of two traits with a critical role under climate change, stress tolerance and photoperiod behaviour, is beginning to be understood for model organisms, providing a starting point for candidate gene approaches in targeted nonmodel species.

Consequences of fragmentation for the ability to adapt to novel environments in experimental Drosophila metapopulations

The results have two important implications: (i) Long-term fragmentation in combination with restricted gene flow will limit the adaptive potential of individual subpopulations because adaptive variation will become distributed among populations rather than within populations.

Interplay between habitat fragmentation and climate change: inbreeding affects the response to thermal stress in Drosophila melanogaster

It is concluded that inbreeding and thermal stress act synergistically and argue that the conse- quences of climate change and habitat fragmentation should preferably be studied in combination rather than in isolation.

Climate change and evolution: disentangling environmental and genetic responses

The available evidence points to the overall conclusion that many responses perceived as adaptations to changing environmental conditions could be environmentally induced plastic responses rather than microevolutionary adaptations, and clear‐cut evidence indicating a significant role for evolutionary adaptation to ongoing climate warming is conspicuously scarce.

Inbreeding depression in adaptive plasticity under predation risk in a freshwater snail

Overall, inbred snails exhibited reduced defences, but more importantly, inbreeding reduced the expression of predator-induced adaptive plasticity.

Patterns of genetic variation in anthropogenically impacted populations

  • J. DiBattista
  • Environmental Science, Psychology
    Conservation Genetics
  • 2007
It is found that human disturbances are associated with weak, but consistent changes in neutral genetic variation within natural populations, with particular attention paid to the effects of habitat fragmentation.


  • R. GomulkiewiczR. Holt
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1995
Understanding population responses to novel environments is a central concern of both evolutionary biology and ecology (Maynard Smith 1989; Bradshaw 1991; Hoffman and Parsons 1991; Peters and Lovejoy

Environmental Change, Phenotypic Plasticity, and Genetic Compensation

It is shown that genetic compensation may lead to a cryptic form of reproductive isolation between populations evolving in different environments, may explain some puzzling cases in which heritable traits exposed to strong directional selection fail to show the expected evolutionary response, and may complicate efforts to monitor populations for signs of environmental deterioration.