Susceptibility to a metal under global warming is shaped by thermal adaptation along a latitudinal gradient

Khuong Van Dinh, Lizanne Janssens, Sara Debecker, Maarten De Jonge, Philippe Lambret, Viktor Nilsson-Ortman, Lieven Bervoets, Robby Stoks

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Global warming and contamination represent two major threats to biodiversity that have the potential to interact synergistically. There is the potential for gradual local thermal adaptation and dispersal to higher latitudes to mitigate the susceptibility of organisms to contaminants and global warming at high latitudes. Here, we applied a space-for-time substitution approach to study the thermal dependence of the susceptibility of Ischnura elegans damselfly larvae to zinc in a common garden warming experiment (20 and 24 degrees C) with replicated populations from three latitudes spanning >1500 km in Europe. We observed a striking latitude-specific effect of temperature on the zinc-induced mortality pattern; local thermal adaptation along the latitudinal gradient made Swedish, but not French, damselfly larvae more susceptible to zinc at 24 degrees C. Latitude-and temperature-specific differences in zinc susceptibility may be related to the amount of energy available to defend against and repair damage since Swedish larvae showed a much stronger zinc-induced reduction of food intake at 24 degrees C. The pattern of local thermal adaptation indicates that the predicted temperature increase of 4 degrees C by 2100 will strongly magnify the impact of a contaminant such as zinc at higher latitudes unless there is thermal evolution and/or migration of lower latitude genotypes. Our results underscore the critical importance of studying the susceptibility to contaminants under realistic warming scenarios taking into account local thermal adaptation across natural temperature gradients.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)2625-2633
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • RISK
  • aquatic ecosystems
  • damselfly larvae
  • metallothioneins
  • metals
  • pollution
  • space-for-time substitution
  • thermal adaptation
  • thermal evolution
  • toxicity
  • zinc
  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Damselfly larvae
  • Metallothioneins
  • Metals
  • Pollution
  • Space-for-time substitution
  • Thermal adaptation
  • Thermal evolution
  • Toxicity
  • Zinc
  • metal
  • aquatic ecosystem
  • biodiversity
  • damselfly
  • genotype
  • global warming
  • larva
  • latitudinal gradient
  • metallothionein
  • mortality
  • synergism
  • temperature effect
  • adaptation
  • animal
  • article
  • drug effect
  • greenhouse effect
  • growth, development and aging
  • Odonata
  • physiology
  • temperature acclimatization
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Global Warming
  • Larva
  • Europe
  • Ischnura elegans
  • Zygoptera
  • latitude-specific temperature effect
  • local thermal adaptation
  • metal susceptibility
  • repair damage
  • species defense
  • species mortality pattern
  • thermal dependence
  • Insecta Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals, Arthropods, Insects, Invertebrates) - Odonata [75338] Ischnura elegans species damselfly common larva
  • zinc 7440-66-6 toxin, pollutant
  • 01500, Evolution
  • 07504, Ecology: environmental biology - Bioclimatology and biometeorology
  • 07508, Ecology: environmental biology - Animal
  • 10069, Biochemistry studies - Minerals
  • 22501, Toxicology - General and methods
  • 22506, Toxicology - Environment and industry
  • 25502, Development and Embryology - General and descriptive
  • 37015, Public health - Air, water and soil pollution
  • 64076, Invertebrata: comparative, experimental morphology, physiology and pathology - Insecta: physiology
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Climatology
  • Evolution and Adaptation
  • Pollution Assessment Control and Management
  • Toxicology
  • space‐for‐time substitution
  • AQUATIC ecology
  • Methodology


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