Local adaptation and the potential effects of a contaminant on predator avoidance and antipredator responses under global warming: a space- for- time substitution approach

Lizanne Janssens, Khuong Van Dinh, Sara Debecker, Lieven Bervoets, Robby Stoks

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The ability to deal with temperature-induced changes in interactions with contaminants and predators under global warming is one of the outstanding, applied evolutionary questions. For this, it is crucial to understand how contaminants will affect activity levels, predator avoidance and antipredator responses under global warming and to what extent gradual thermal evolution may mitigate these effects. Using a space-for-time substitution approach, we assessed the potential for gradual thermal evolution shaping activity (mobility and foraging), predator avoidance and antipredator responses when Ischnura elegans damselfly larvae were exposed to zinc in a common-garden warming experiment at the mean summer water temperatures of shallow water bodies at southern and northern latitudes (24 and 20 degrees C, respectively). Zinc reduced mobility and foraging, predator avoidance and escape swimming speed. Importantly, high-latitude populations showed stronger zinc-induced reductions in escape swimming speed at both temperatures, and in activity levels at the high temperature. The latter indicates that local thermal adaptation may strongly change the ecological impact of contaminants under global warming. Our study underscores the critical importance of considering local adaptation along natural gradients when integrating biotic interactions in ecological risk assessment, and the potential of gradual thermal evolution mitigating the effects of warming on the vulnerability to contaminants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolutionary Applications
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)421-430
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • antipredator traits
  • ecological risk assessment
  • escape speed
  • global warming
  • latitudinal gradient
  • metals
  • predator avoidance
  • space-for-time substitution
  • thermal adaptation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Antipredator traits
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Escape speed
  • Global warming
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Metals
  • Predator avoidance
  • Space-for-time substitution
  • Thermal adaptation
  • Europe Palearctic region
  • antipredator response
  • behavioral trait
  • biotic interaction
  • escape swimming speed
  • predator-prey interaction
  • species evolution
  • summer climate
  • toxicity toxicity
  • Insecta Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals, Arthropods, Insects, Invertebrates) - Odonata [75338] Ischnura elegans species damselfly common larva
  • contaminant
  • Zinc 7440-66-6
  • 01500, Evolution
  • 03502, Genetics - General
  • 03506, Genetics - Animal
  • 07002, Behavioral biology - General and comparative behavior
  • 07003, Behavioral biology - Animal behavior
  • 07504, Ecology: environmental biology - Bioclimatology and biometeorology
  • 07508, Ecology: environmental biology - Animal
  • 22501, Toxicology - General and methods
  • 25502, Development and Embryology - General and descriptive
  • 64076, Invertebrata: comparative, experimental morphology, physiology and pathology - Insecta: physiology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Behavior
  • Climatology
  • Evolution and Adaptation
  • Toxicology

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