General Circulation Models predict that the temperature changes in remote areas such as the arctic and high altitude sites will proceed at a faster rate than the global temperature change, indicating that these areas might be at higher risk. Within alpine lakes, factors related with climate and lake size have been found to be significant for predicting the distribution of species of different taxonomic groups on a European scale (Catalan et al. 2006). Amongst them, the distribution of crustacean and rotifer zooplankton was found to be potentially affected by stochastic events such as founder effects either at regional or at local scale. Understanding species distributions and the relevance of environmental factors upon them, require an understanding of how local factors affect the dynamics of local populations and structure of metapopulations.
In this sense, the study of local adaptation offers the more feasible alternative of comparison between local populations, which have evolved under different conditions. The main objective of the project will be to study the relative importance of founder effects, local adaptation and ecological thresholds for the distribution of crustacean zooplankton species in the Pyrenees. The project has been structured in three stages: first it will focus on detecting potential ecological thresholds of species distribution of crustacean zooplankton in the Pyrenean lakes using existing and newly collected data; second, it will describe the main traits distinguishing the different species and their trophic relationships focusing on a representative subset of lakes covering most of the species, which will be sampled on different occasions during a seasonal cycle.
The final stage will be to investigate which of these factors are drivers and which traits have undergone local adaptation. This objective will be approached in an experimental set-up of reciprocal transplants.
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