Increasing temperature weakens the positive effect of genetic diversity on population growth.
Genetic diversity and temperature increases associated with global climate change are known to independently influence population growth and extinction risk. Whether increasing temperature may influence the effect of genetic diversity on population growth, however, is not known. We address this issue in the model protist system Tetrahymena thermophila
. We test the hypothesis that at temperatures closer to the species' thermal optimum (i.e., the temperature at which population growth is maximal, or T
), genetic diversity should have a weaker effect on population growth compared to temperatures away from the thermal optimum. To do so, we grew populations of T
with varying levels of genetic diversity at increasingly warmer temperatures and quantified their intrinsic population growth rate, r
. We found that genetic diversity increases population growth at cooler temperatures, but that as temperature increases, this effect weakens. We also show that a combination of changes in the amount of expressed genetic diversity (G) in r
, plastic changes in population growth across temperatures (E), and strong G × E interactions underlie this temperature effect. Our results uncover important but largely overlooked temperature effects that have implications for the management of small populations with depauperate genetic stocks in an increasingly warming world.
Singleton, AL; Liu, MH; Votzke, S; Yammine, A; Gibert, JP
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