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Reasons for Rarity? Exploring Acclimatory and Adaptive Constraints to Commonness

Cruse-Sanders, Jennifer [1], Nagel Boyd, Jennifer [2].

Reasons for Rarity? Exploring Acclimatory and Adaptive Constraints to Commonness.

The enduring question of why some species are rare while others are common has important implications for ecological theory, rare species conservation, and overall biodiversity. Although dramatic differences in the prevalence of species in the natural world have been well documented historically, biological factors influential to species rarity and commonness are not well understood. Enhanced trait-based empirical research is advancing our understanding of adaptive, acclimatory, and demographic responses to changing habitats within the context of species' rarity and commonness. This colloquium will present comparative ecophysiological, genetic, and demographic investigations of rare and common species designed to advance understanding of species performance and persistence currently and within the context of environmental change. We will especially focus on comparative phenotypic plasticity and genetic diversity to generate insight into both acclimatory and adaptive constraints to species commonness in an effort to explore the following questions:   What is the influence of local habitat conditions on evolutionarily relevant traits? In particular, biodiversity hotspots, characterized by disproportionately high numbers of rare endemic plant species, and the rapid pace of contemporary environmental change have been implicated as a threat to rare species in these regions and beyond. Other areas that exist at the edge of habitat extremes provide insights into the role of adaptation and species persistence and response to change. Adaptation to new conditions is possible for some species, but could be impaired by the time required relative to that of rapid environmental change and the low genetic diversity characteristic of many rare species. In contrast, acclimation could facilitate species expansion across varied environments and/or persistence in locations experiencing rapid environmental change.   What happens then when locally adapted populations, of rare or common species, experience a changing environment? Local populations distributed across a landscape with a variety of biotic and abiotic conditions are exposed to different selective pressures over evolutionary time. Local adaptation, wherein ecotypes have elevated fitness in their home environment and depressed fitness in the contrasting environment, can potentially be disrupted due to changing climate and other human mediated modification of multiple agents of selection. When biotic and abiotic cues that contribute to local adaptation, such as temperature and photoperiod, change significantly there are potentially significant disruption between current and optimal phenotypes that result in population declines.   The research reported in this colloquium is supported in part with funding from the National Science Foundation.

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1 - University of Georgia
2 - University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

none specified

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: C06, Reasons for Rarity? Exploring Acclimatory and Adaptive Constraints to Commonness
Location: /
Date: Wednesday, July 21st, 2021
Time: 3:00 PM(EDT)
Number: C06SUM
Abstract ID:14
Candidate for Awards:None

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