The evolutionary potential for adaptation in future generations depends on the genetic variation among currently reproducing organisms. Heritability of fitness-related characteristics, such as reproductive rates or competitive abilities, determines whether organisms are capable of withstanding rapid ecological changes. An understanding of the evolutionary potential of species is, therefore, essential if we are to accurately predict the outcome of current global climate changes.

To date only a few model organisms have been examined in this context. Hence, this project aims to assess temperature-related life history traits in key species across their geographical range. Common-garden experiments will be used to subject individuals originating from different populations to various temperature regimes.

Depending on the species, changes in behaviour up to the physiology of metabolism will be detected. Here the focus is placed on reproduction features, such as generation time and reproduction rate. Therefore, several populations are exposed to different temperatures. The degree of heritability will be analysed in crossbreeding experiments. Neutral genetic markers will be used to distinguish the effects of random variability, such as genetic drift, from those of selection.

Running and standing waters are variously affected by climate changes. Therefore we analyse freshwater invertebrates from both habitats that are commonly used as indicators in the analysis of water quality, such as Chironomus and Daphnia.

In view of the similarities in content and methodology, this project is closely linked to project groups B and D.