Evolvability under climate change: Bone development and shape plasticity are heritable and correspond with performance in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)

Calum S. Campbell, Colin E. Adams, Colin W. Bean, Natalie Pilakouta, Kevin J. Parsons*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental conditions can impact the development of phenotypes and in turn the performance of individuals. Climate change, therefore, provides a pressing need to extend our understanding of how temperature will influence phenotypic variation. To address this, we assessed the impact of increased temperatures on ecologically significant phenotypic traits in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). We raised Arctic charr at 5°C and 9°C to simulate a predicted climate change scenario and examined temperature-induced variation in ossification, bone metabolism, skeletal morphology, and escape response. Fish reared at 9°C exhibited less cartilage and bone development at the same developmental stage, but also higher bone metabolism in localized regions. The higher temperature treatment also resulted in significant differences in craniofacial morphology, changes in the degree of variation, and fewer vertebrae. Both temperature regime and vertebral number affected escape response performance, with higher temperature leading to decreased latency. These findings demonstrate that climate change has the potential to impact development through multiple routes with the potential for plasticity and the release of cryptic genetic variation to have strong impacts on function through ecological performance and survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-350
Number of pages18
JournalEvolution and Development
Issue number4
Early online date19 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank T. Robbins, A. Jacobson, and A. Lyle, for help in the field and animal care staff including Graham Law, Ross Phillips, and Alistair Kirk for their assistance. Input from two anonymous reviewers greatly improved this manuscript. This study was funded by grants from the NatureScot, Royal Society, Carnegie Trust, Glasgow Natural History Society, and the University of Glasgow.

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


  • adaptation
  • escape response
  • global warming
  • morphometrics
  • ossification


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolvability under climate change: Bone development and shape plasticity are heritable and correspond with performance in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this