Genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in Mediterranean gypsum specialists: insights into climate change responses
Climate change is altering global patterns of temperature and precipitation, being a major threat for plant populations worldwide. The negative effects of climate change are expected to be greater in the Mediterranean region, intensely affecting plant populations. A well-documented response to cope with climate change is migration to find suitable conditions. However, migration may be particularly challenging for species with specific edaphic requirements, poor dispersal ability, and fragmented distributions such as gypsophiles, plants restricted to gypsum soils. When migration is limited or unfeasible, populations need to respond locally to cope with the new environmental conditions imposed by climate change and avoid extinction. Consequently, in situ evolutionary processes, i.e., adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity, are critical to guarantee the survival and persistence of gypsophile populations in a climate change context. Future adaptive responses of populations to climate change are not only influenced by past neutral and adaptive evolutionary processes, but also depend on the strength and direction of natural selection and the evolutionary potential of functional traits and their plasticity. Therefore, this thesis studies the evolutionary ecology of Iberian gypsophiles, to understand how the populations of these species will respond to climate change.
Tesis Doctoral leída en la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid en 2023. Directores: Silvia Matesanz García y Adrián Escudero Alcántara
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