Rapid evolutionary adaptation to multiple stressors: cross-tolerance or cross-inhibition?
Due to anthropogenic activities, the global environment is changing rapidly, and is expected to continue doing so over the coming decades. Many of these changes lead to increased levels of stress to living organisms with negative impacts on their natural populations. Rapid evolutionary adaptation is increasingly recognized as an important mechanism that increases the coping ability of multicellular organisms to deal with increased stress levels. Applying an experimental evolution approach with freshwater zooplankton, we aim at testing specific hypotheses related to the causes and consequences of rapid adaptation to increased stress levels (e.g. poor food quality, salinization, warming and copper contamination). Our recent research focuses strongly on a multiple stressor context and addresses questions such as whether adaptation to one stressor impedes or enhances abilities to cope with other stressors and how past selection regimes determine the evolutionary potential of populations to adapt to new stressors.