Resilience by diversity: large intraspecific differences in climate change responses of an Arctic diatom

The potential for adaptation of phytoplankton to future climate is often extrapolated based on single strain responses of a representative species, ignoring variability within and between species. The aim of this study was to approximate the range of strain-specific reaction patterns within an Arctic diatom population, which selection can act upon. In a laboratory experiment, we first incubated natural communities from an Arctic fjord under present and future conditions. In a second step, single strains of the diatom Thalassiosira hyalina were isolated from these selection environments and exposed to a matrix of temperature (3°C and 6°C) and pCO2 levels (180 μatm, 370 μatm, 1000 μatm, 1400 μatm) to establish reaction norms for growth, production rates, and elemental quotas. The results revealed interactive effects of temperature and pCO2 as well as wide tolerance ranges. Between strains, however, sensitivities and optima differed greatly. These strain-specific responses corresponded well with their respective selection environments of the previous community incubation. We therefore hypothesize that intraspecific variability and the selection between coexisting strains may pose an underestimated source of species’ plasticity. Thus, adaptation of phytoplankton assemblages may also occur by selection within rather than only between species, and species-wide inferences from single strain experiments should be treated with caution.

Wolf K. K. E., Hoppe C. J. M. & Rost B., 2018. Resilience by diversity: large intraspecific differences in climate change responses of an Arctic diatom. Limnology and oceanography 1(63): 397-411. Article.


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