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Adaptation and Evolution in rainforest fruit flies

In a recent paper published in the journal Global Change Biology, researchers from the UK and Australia, including CTBCC's Megan Higgie, investigate adaptation and evolution of rainforest fruit flies along altitudinal gradients.

The study looked at field abundance of the rainforest fruit fly in the Wet Tropics with respect to ecological gradients including it's low and high altitudinal limits.

They also investigated how such ecological variation affects the fitness of 35 fly families transplanted in 591 cages to sites along two altitudinal gradients, to determine whether genetic variation in fitness responses could help future adaptation to environmental change.

The researchers found that field abundance was higher at cooler, higher sites. But cage fitness increased as it got warmer and lower altitude - this suggests interactions with other species might limit fly populations at lower sites in the absence of cages. 

These findings highlight the importance of measuring genetic variation in key traits under ecologically relevant conditions, and also considering the effect of biotic interactions when predicting species’ responses to environmental change.

Read the full paper here.