Marine Biogeochemistry

Acclimation and adaptation to ocean change

Environmental change is the norm. While conditions in the environment are never constant, it is the rate of change that is most critical to living systems. If change is gradual, organisms can acclimate or ‘learn’ to adapt. Better-adapted species replace those that cannot cope with the new conditions. If change is much faster than the rate of evolutionary adaptation, mass extinction can occur. An important factor in this context is the generation time of the organism exposed to environmental changes. Microorganism with generation times of a day are likely to have a higher potential for adaptation than species which reproduce once a year or less. Much of the experimental work on global change applies abrupt perturbations for relatively short durations. Considering the important role of acclimation and adaptation in organism and community-level responses to ocean change, an effort is being made for longer-term experimentation with more realistic scenarios of environmental change has. (BIOACID, Excellence Cluster Future Ocean)