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Investigating Climate Change and Reproduction: Experimental Tools from Evolutionary Biology

ETH Zurich, Experimental Ecology, Institute for Integrative Biology, Universitätsstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Biology 2012, 1(2), 411-438;
Received: 23 July 2012 / Revised: 30 August 2012 / Accepted: 4 September 2012 / Published: 13 September 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Implications of Climate Change)
PDF [251 KB, uploaded 13 September 2012]


It is now generally acknowledged that climate change has wide-ranging biological consequences, potentially leading to impacts on biodiversity. Environmental factors can have diverse and often strong effects on reproduction, with obvious ramifications for population fitness. Nevertheless, reproductive traits are often neglected in conservation considerations. Focusing on animals, recent progress in sexual selection and sexual conflict research suggests that reproductive costs may pose an underestimated hurdle during rapid climate change, potentially lowering adaptive potential and increasing extinction risk of certain populations. Nevertheless, regime shifts may have both negative and positive effects on reproduction, so it is important to acquire detailed experimental data. We hence present an overview of the literature reporting short-term reproductive consequences of exposure to different environmental factors. From the enormous diversity of findings, we conclude that climate change research could benefit greatly from more coordinated efforts incorporating evolutionary approaches in order to obtain cross-comparable data on how individual and population reproductive fitness respond in the long term. Therefore, we propose ideas and methods concerning future efforts dealing with reproductive consequences of climate change, in particular by highlighting the advantages of multi-generational experimental evolution experiments. View Full-Text
Keywords: experimental evolution; sexual selection; global warming; speciation; extinction experimental evolution; sexual selection; global warming; speciation; extinction
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Grazer, V.M.; Martin, O.Y. Investigating Climate Change and Reproduction: Experimental Tools from Evolutionary Biology. Biology 2012, 1, 411-438.

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