Evolution in action: Drivers of rapid adaptation to climate change in the winter moth

Natalie Elisabeth van Dis


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The large-scale and fast environmental changes resulting from climate change put nature under pressure. In the long run, species will need to evolve to survive. As one of the few species that we know of to have evolved under climate change, I used the winter moth to gain important insights into the factors that determine a species’ adaptive potential. I investigated the winter moth's rapid adaptation to climate change using experiments, microscopy, gene expression analysis, and a unique long-term dataset of DNA and ecological data from the past 20 years. Based on my findings, I propose four drivers that underly the rate of adaptation in the winter moth: (1) many genes involved, (2) high genetic variation, (3) large population size, and (4) fitness consequences that have impacted population growth rates. I furthermore propose that genes involved in sensing and signalling environmental changes are important for climate change adaptation. These findings can help determine which insect populations are being threathened with extinction by climate change.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Wertheim, Bregje, Supervisor
  • Hut, Roelof, Supervisor
  • Visser, Marcel, Supervisor
Datum van toekenning6-jun.-2023
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2023


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  • NEV Dissertation Award

    van Dis, N. (Recipient), 15-dec.-2023

    Prijs: PrizeAcademic


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