Population response to anthropogenic activities will be influenced by prior adaptation to environmental conditions. We tested how parasite-resistant and -susceptible strains of the freshwater snail, Biomphalaria glabrata, responded to cadmium and elevated temperature challenges after having been exposed to low-level cadmium continuously for multiple generations. Snails exposed to cadmium for three generations were removed for the fourth generation, and challenged in the fifth generation with (1) chronic cadmium exposure over the entire life cycle; (2) lethal cadmium exposure of adults; and (3) elevated temperature challenge of adults. The parasite susceptible NMRI strain is more cadmium tolerant than the parasite resistant BS90 strain and remained more tolerant than BS90 throughout this study. Additionally, NMRI exhibited greater adaptive capacity for cadmium than BS90 and became more tolerant of both chronic and lethal cadmium challenges, while BS90 became more tolerant of lethal cadmium challenge only. Fitness costs, reflected in population growth rate, were not apparent in fifth generation snails maintained in control conditions. However, costs were latent and expressed as decreased tolerance to a secondarily imposed temperature stress. Adaptation to prior selection pressures can influence subsequent adaptation to anthropogenic stresses and may have associated costs that reduce fitness in novel environments.
- Costs of adaptation