Project groups


Whether a population has the evolutionary potential to adapt to changing climates will strongly depend on the amount of genetic variation in climate-relevant fitness traits. One of the most important prerequisites for sound estimates of the response of species to climate change is their potential for genetic adaptation. In this project we aim to investigate the genetic variation of climate-relevant genetic traits and the potential to adapt to changing climatic conditions in limnic ecological key species. To achieve this we conduct common-garden temperature experiments with populations from:

a) different climes

b) different regions within a clime

c) different genotypes (in the case of clonal reproduction) or populations on a local scale.

Heritability of traits will be investigated in crossing experiments. In addition, microsatellite markers will be used to determine the degree of neutral genetic differentiation among populations.

Studies will be performed with selected limnic model species, e.g. the midge Chironomus riparius, the freshwater snail Radix balthica and the water flea Daphnia galeata.

This project is additionally funded by means of the state of Hesse.



Jesse, R., Grudinski, M., Klaus, S., Streit, B. & M. Pfenninger (2011) : Evolution of freshwater crab diversity in the Aegean region (Crustaceae: Brachyura: Potamidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59(1): 23-33. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.12.011.

Kappes, H., Katzschner, L. & C. Nowak (2012) : Urban summer heat load: meteorological data as a proxy for metropolitan biodiversity. - Meteorologische Zeitschrift 21: 525-528.

Merker, S., Thomas, S., Völker, E., Perwitasari-Farajallah, D., Feldmeyer, B., Streit, B., & M. Pfenninger (2014) : Control region length dynamics potentially drives amino acid evolution in tarsier mitochondrial genomes. - Journal of Molecular Evolution/ *79*, 40-51

Nemec, S., Heß, M., Nowak, C. & M. Pfenninger (2012) : Experimental evidence for niche segregation in a species pair of non-biting midges. - Hydrobiologia 691: 203-212.

Nowak, C., Nemec, S., Vogt, C. & M. Pfenninger (2010) : Chironomus als Modellorganismus der Molekularen Ökologie – vom Wert genetischer Vielfalt bis zur Anpassung an Klimastress. - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Limnologie (DGL), Erweiterte Zusammenfassungen der Jahrestagung 2009 (Oldenburg) 438-442.

Nowak, C., Vogt, C., Pfenninger, M., Schwenk, K., Streit, B., Oehlmann, J. & M. Oetken (2012) : Impact of genetic diversity and inbreeding onthe life-history of Chironomus midgesover consecutive generations. - Chemosphere 88(8): 988–993.

Pfenninger, M., Patel, S., Arias-Rodriguez, L., Feldmeyer, B., Riesch, R. & M. Plath (2015) : Unique evolutionary trajectories in repeated adaptation to hydrogen sulphide-toxic Habitats. - Molecular Ecology 24: 5446-5459

Streit, B. (2010) : Verlust der biologischen Vielfalt. Über spekulative Zahlen und realisierbare Ziele. - Forschung & Lehre 9/10, S. 654-656
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Vogt, C., Langer-Jaesrich, M., Elsässer, O., Schmitt, C., Van Dongen, S., Köhler, H.-R., Oehlmann, J. & C. Nowak (2013) : Effects of inbreeding on mouthpart deformities of Chironomus riparius under sublethal pesticide exposure. - Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32: 423-425.