Main content area

Thermal Transgenerational Plasticity in Natural Populations of Daphnia

Walsh, Matthew R., Whittington, Deirdre, Funkhouser, Collin
Integrative and comparative biology 2014 v.54 no.5 pp. 822-829
Daphnia, climate change, grandparents, lakes, phenotype, progeny, rearing, temperature, zooplankton, Connecticut
Rising temperatures associated with global climatic change threaten the persistence of species. Determining how species adapt to environmental change is paramount. Much work has shown that environmental stressors have the potential to induce phenotypic changes that span multiple generations. Such transgenerational plasticity (TGP) represents a mechanism that may allow for rapid responses to global climatic change. Yet, our understanding of thermal TGP beyond the relationship between parent and offspring is limited. We evaluated thermal TGP in development across three generations (i.e., F0, F1, and F2) in zooplankton (Daphnia ambigua) from lakes in Connecticut. We found that the temperatures at which parents and grandparents were reared significantly influenced age at maturation in the grand-offspring. Comparisons between the F0 and F1 generation show that the offspring of parents reared at low temperatures matured significantly faster than the offspring of parents reared at a higher temperature. However, age at maturation in the grand-offspring was influenced by the interactive effects of parents and grandparents. Such an effect yielded trends that were not readily predicted from the previous generations and whose adaptive significance is unclear. Our results thus call for additional theoretical and empirical work to better understand the transgenerational effects of temperature.