Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Species-level effects of extreme weather

The broader effects of extreme events caused by climate change are relatively unknown. Researchers are testing hypotheses and developing models to close this gap in scientific knowledge.
Species-level effects of extreme weather
Intensification and increased frequency of weather extremes is one of the most dramatic aspects of climate change. Researchers don't yet know what effects this could have on animal populations.

The EU-funded RAPIDEVO (Rapid evolutionary responses to climate change in natural populations: Integrating molecular genetics, climate predictions and demography into an eco-evolutionary modelling framework) initiative had the goal of understanding and modeling the genetic and demographic effects of extreme climate events on natural populations. The researchers used marble trout, a freshwater salmonid living in Western Slovenia that is threatened by flash floods and debris flows, as a model system.

Researchers developed models of variation in vital rates to understand how single or repeated extreme events can change size-at-age, survival, reproductive traits, and genetic variability of marble trout.

They found that marble trout populations with faster average growth tended to show lower average survival, and that populations with slower growth may be slower at recovering after population collapses. The research also showed that after floods, production of young, survival, and growth substantially increased, while genetic variability tended to decrease due to bottleneck effects, suggesting reduced evolutionary potential following floods.

RAPIDEVO is the first study of the historical and future consequences of extreme events in fish populations. This work will help biologists and climate change researchers better understand the relationship between extreme events, demography, and evolution of traits across species.

Related information


Extreme events, climate change, RAPIDEVO, marble trout salmon, evolution
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