Rapid microevolutionary adaptation is increasingly recognized as a mechanism that increases the coping ability of multicellular organisms to deal with increased stress levels. The consideration of rapid evolutionary responses is therefore key to a better understanding of the long-term effects of stressors on natural systems. Studies to date have mainly focused on the ecological implications of microevolutionary adaptation in single populations, while ecosystem functions are supported by many species and populations of different species can differ in their adaptive potential. In addition, the evolutionary trajectory of a population may also be strongly impacted by interactions with populations of other evolving coexisting species. Combining a field study with an experimental evolution approach, this COMADAPT-research aims to quantify the extent to which contemporary evolution mediates the response of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of freshwater zooplankton communities to salinization, a major anthropogenic stressor. Unique to our approach is that we explicitly adopt a community-wide perspective by simultaneously addressing the evolutionary response of multiple constituent species within a community context.
We provide a disciplinary and multidisciplinary research programme aimed at advanced understanding of environmental problems and advanced training of PhD candidates in this field.