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Acclimation capacity and rate change through life in the zooplankton Daphnia

Cite this dataset

Burton, Tim (2020). Acclimation capacity and rate change through life in the zooplankton Daphnia [Dataset]. Dryad.


When a change in the environment occurs, organisms can maintain an optimal phenotypic state via plastic, reversible changes to their phenotypes. These adjustments, when occurring within a generation, are described as the process of acclimation. Whilst acclimation has been studied for more than half a century, global environmental change has stimulated renewed interest in quantifying variation in the rate and capacity with which this process occurs, particularly among ectothermic organisms. Yet, despite the likely ecological importance of acclimation capacity and rate, how these traits change throughout life among members of the same species is largely unstudied. Here we investigate these relationships by measuring acute heat tolerance of the clonally reproducing zooplankter Daphnia magna of different size/age and acclimation status. The heat tolerance of individuals completely acclimated to relatively warm (28°C) or cool (17°C) temperatures diverged during development, indicating that older, larger individuals had a greater capacity to increase heat tolerance. However, when cool acclimated individuals were briefly exposed to the warm temperature (i.e. were ‘heat-hardened’), it was younger, smaller animals with less capacity to acclimate that were able to do so more rapidly because they obtained or came closer to obtaining complete acclimation of heat tolerance. Our results illustrate that within a species, individuals can differ substantially in how rapidly and by how much they can respond to environmental change. We urge greater investigation of the intraspecific relationship between acclimation and development along with further consideration of the factors that might contribute to these enigmatic patterns of phenotypic variation.


Data collected experimentally in laboratory conditions.

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H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Award: MSCA-IF 658530

Norges Forskningsråd, Award: Klimaforsk 244046