Species Response to Environmental Change: Impacts of Food Web Interactions and Evolution

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Science  06 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5919, pp. 1347-1350
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167396

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How environmental change affects species abundances depends on both the food web within which species interact and their potential to evolve. Using field experiments, we investigated both ecological and evolutionary responses of pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum), a common agricultural pest, to increased frequency of episodic heat shocks. One predator species ameliorated the decrease in aphid population growth with increasing heat shocks, whereas a second predator did not, with this contrast caused by behavioral differences between predators. We also compared aphid strains with stably inherited differences in heat tolerance caused by bacterial endosymbionts and showed the potential for rapid evolution for heat-shock tolerance. Our results illustrate how ecological and evolutionary complexities should be incorporated into predictions of the consequences of environmental change for species' populations.

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