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Life-History Responses to the Altitudinal Gradient

AuthorsLaiolo, Paola ; Obeso Suárez, José Ramón
KeywordsBet hedging
Centre-periphery hypothesis
Local adaptation
Phenotypic plasticity
Reproductive allocation
Slow-fast life-history continuum
Issue Date5-Aug-2017
CitationHigh Mountain Conservation in a Changing World : 253-283 (2017)
AbstractWe review life-history variation along elevation in animals and plants and illustrate its drivers, mechanisms and constraints. Elevation shapes life histories into suites of correlated traits that are often remarkably convergent among organisms facing the same environmental challenges. Much of the variation observed along elevation is the result of direct physiological sensitivity to temperature and nutrient supply. As a general rule, alpine populations adopt ‘slow’ life cycles, involving long lifespan, delayed maturity, slow reproductive rates and strong inversions in parental care to enhance the chance of recruitment. Exceptions in both animals and plants are often rooted in evolutionary legacies (e.g. constraints to prolonging cycles in obligatory univoltine taxa) or biogeographic history (e.g. location near trailing or leading edges). Predicting evolutionary trajectories into the future must take into account genetic variability, gene flow and selection strength, which define the potential for local adaptation, as well as the rate of anthropogenic environmental change and species’ idiosyncratic reaction norms. Shifts up and down elevation in the past helped maintain genetic differentiation in alpine populations, with slow life cycles contributing to the accumulation of genetic diversity during upward migrations. Gene flow is facilitated by the proximity of neighbouring populations, and global warming is likely to move fast genotypes upwards and reduce some of those constraints dominating alpine life. Demographic buffering or compensation may protect local alpine populations against trends in environmental conditions, but such mechanisms may not last indefinitely if evolutionary trajectories cannot keep pace with rapid changes.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-55982-7_11
Appears in Collections:(INCAR) Libros y partes de libros
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