Adaptive responses to environmental stochasticity on different evolutionary time-scales
MetadataShow full item record
- Institutt for biologi 
All life on earth needs to cope with unpredictable (stochastic) environmental variation, and has evolved to do so. However, environmental conditions are currently changing not only in their average levels (e.g. warmer, wetter, drier), but are also becoming more variable and unpredictable, as anthropogenic climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts and storms. These changes are threatening and changing living conditions for a large part of earth’s biodiversity, creating an urgent need to understand how such variability affects evolutionary processes. Different branches of biology have long studied various adaptations to environmental fluctuations, but unfortunately there is little conceptual overlap (and often considerable conflict) among the topics covered in different disciplines. For example, environmental variability is often considered at different time-scales, such as variation within an organism’s lifetime versus variation among generations. Studies (and entire disciplines) that deal with each of these separately may reach wrong conclusions if they fail to account for environmental fluctuations on other time-scales. This thesis aims to develop new evolutionary theory and unify existing knowledge on how organisms adapt to unpredictable environmental variation over different time-scales. Specifically, we compare individual-level strategies that deal with within-lifetime environmental variability (typically behavioral strategies) and genotype-level strategies that deal with environmental variability across generations. This allows us to identify cases where one type of adaptation affects, interacts with or reduces the scope for other types of adaptations. We are also able to link related concepts from separate disciplines where similar adaptations to environmental variability have not previously been placed in the same framework. We hope that these advances can reveal important connections, open up for new theoretical advances, and increase our ability to predict evolutionary responses of natural populations to human-induced rapid environmental change.