Most organisms and populations have to cope with hostile environments, threatening their existence. Their ability to respond phenotypically and genetically to these challenges and to evolve adaptive mechanisms is, therefore, crucial. The contributions to this book aim at understanding, from a evolutionary perspective, the impact of stress on biological systems. Scientists, applying different approaches spanning from the molecular and the protein level to individuals, populations and ecosystems, explore how organisms adapt to extreme environments, how stress changes genetic structure and affects life histories, how organisms cope with thermal stress through acclimation, and how environmental and genetic stress induce fluctuating asymmetry, shape selection pressure and cause extinction of populations. Finally, it discusses the role of stress in evolutionary change, from stress induced mutations and selection to speciation and evolution at the geological time scale. The book contains reviews and novel scientific results on the subject. It will be of interest to both researchers and graduate students and may serve as a text for graduate courses.
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