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Rapid Evolution of Metal Resistance in a Benthic Oligochaete Inhabiting a Metal-Polluted Site

P. L. Klerks and J. S. Levinton
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 176, No. 2 (Apr., 1989), pp. 135-141
DOI: 10.2307/1541580
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1541580
Page Count: 7
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Rapid Evolution of Metal Resistance in a Benthic Oligochaete Inhabiting a Metal-Polluted Site
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Abstract

We identified a case of very rapid evolution of resistance in a common freshwater benthic invertebrate, to sediment with extremely high levels of cadmium and nickel. Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri from metal-polluted sites in Foundry Cove (New York) was significantly more resistant than conspecifics from a nearby control site, to both metal-rich natural sediment and metal-spiked water. Resistance differences were also found among sites within Foundry Cove. The elevated resistance in Foundry Cove worms was genetically determined, as it was still present after two generations in clean sediment. Resistance had evolved rapidly (within 30 years). A laboratory selection experiment and estimates of the heritability of this resistance in L. hoffmeisteri from the control site, indicated that the resistance could have evolved in 1 to 4 generations. The laboratory selection resulted in a large increase in resistance after two generations of selection, while we demonstrated that most of the phenotypic variation was additive genetic; heritability estimates ranged from 0.59 to 1.08.

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