Rapid evolution may provide a buffer against extinction risk for some species threatened by climate change; however, the capacity to evolve rapidly enough to keep pace with changing environments is unknown for most taxa. The ecosystem-level consequences of climate adaptation are likely to be the largest in marine ecosystems, where short-lived phytoplankton with large effective population sizes make up the bulk of primary production. However, there are substantial challenges to predicting climate-driven evolution in marine systems, including multiple simultaneous axes of change and considerable heterogeneity in rates of change, as well as the biphasic life cycles of many marine metazoans, which expose different life stages to disparate sources of selection. A critical tool for addressing these challenges is experimental evolution, where populations of organisms are directly exposed to controlled sources of selection to test evolutionary responses. We review the use of experimental evolution to test the capacity to adapt to climate change stressors in marine species. The application of experimental evolution in this context has grown dramatically in the past decade, shedding light on the capacity for evolution, associated trade-offs, and the genetic architecture of stress-tolerance traits. Our goal is to highlight the utility of this approach for investigating potential responses to climate change and point a way forward for future studies.
Kelly M. W. & Griffiths J. S., in press. Selection experiments in the sea: what can experimental evolution tell us about how marine life will respond to climate change? The Biological Bulletin. Article.