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Tracking the Genetic Effects of Global Warming: Drosophila and Other Model Systems

Francisco Rodríguez-Trelles, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Miguel A Rodríguez, Area de Ecologia Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Alcalas, Spain
Samuel M Scheiner, National Science Foundation


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Current efforts to study the biological effects of global change have focused on ecological responses, particularly shifts in species ranges. Mostly ignored are microevolutionary changes. Genetic changes may be at least as important as ecological ones in determining species' responses. In addition, such changes may be a sensitive indicator of global changes that will provide different information than that provided by range shifts. We discuss potential candidate systems to use in such monitoring programs. Studies of Drosophila subobscura suggest that its chromosomal inversion polymorphisms are responding to global warming. Drosophila inversion polymorphisms can be useful indicators of the effects of climate change on populations and ecosystems. Other species also hold the potential to become important indicators of global change. Such studies might significantly influence ecosystem conservation policies and research priorities.

Key words

biodiversity conservation, biological indicator, chromosomal inversion polymorphism, climate change, Drosophila, evolutionary ecology, genetic diversity, global warming, microevolution.
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087