The evolution of toxicant resistance in daphniids and its role on surrogate species

Amy Veprauskas, Azmy S. Ackleh, John E. Banks, John D. Stark

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Prolonged exposure to a disturbance such as a toxicant has the potential to result in rapid evolution to toxicant resistance in many short-lived species such as daphniids. This evolution may allow a population to persist at higher levels of the toxicant than is possible without evolution. Here we apply evolutionary  game theory  to a Leslie matrix model for a daphniid population to obtain a Darwinian model that couples population dynamics with the dynamics of an evolving trait. We use the Darwinian model to consider how the evolution of resistance to the lethal or  sublethal effects  of a disturbance may change the population dynamics. In particular, we determine the conditions under which a daphniid population can persist by evolving toxicant resistance. We then consider the implications of this evolution in terms of the use of daphniids as surrogate species. We show for three species of daphniids that evolution of toxicant resistance means that one species may persist while another does not. These results suggest that toxicant studies that do not consider the potential of a species (or its surrogate) to develop toxicant resistance may not accurately predict the long term persistence of the species.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
StatePublished - 2018


  • Life Sciences

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