Regional and fine-scale local adaptation in salinity tolerance in Daphnia inhabiting contrasting clusters of inland saline waters

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Understanding the spatial scales at which organisms can adapt to strong natural and human-induced environmental gradients is important. Salinization is a key threat to biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services of freshwater systems. Clusters of naturally saline habitats represent ideal test cases to study the extent and scale of local adaptation to salinization. We studied local adaptation of the water flea Daphnia magna, a key component of pond food webs, to salinity in two contrasting landscapes—a dense cluster of sodic bomb crater ponds and a larger-scale cluster of soda pans. We show regional differentiation in salinity tolerance reflecting the higher salinity levels of soda pans versus bomb crater ponds. We found local adaptation to differences in salinity levels at the scale of tens of metres among bomb crater pond populations but not among geographically more distant soda pan populations. More saline bomb crater ponds showed an upward shift of the minimum salt tolerance observed across clones and a consequent gradual loss of less tolerant clones in a nested pattern. Our results show evolutionary adaptation to salinity gradients at different spatial scales, including fine-tuned local adaptation in neighbouring habitat patches in a natural landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20231917
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2016
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the FWO project no. G0C3818N and KU Leuven Research Council project C16/2017/002. C.F.V. and Z.H. acknowledge further support from the NKFIH project no. 2019-2.1.11-TÉT-2020-00159. Z.H. was further supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Grant number BO/00392/20/8). K.I.B. acknowledges further support from KU Leuven PDM/18/112 and FWO project no. 1222120N. Acknowledgements

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