|The Question: Image stolen from one of Luc De Meester's presentations.|
All of this might be just academic speculation, except that the question is germane to changes in community structure as a result of climate change – with Daphnia providing a nice test case. Daphnia show adaptation to temperature, such that clones living in a warmer environment have higher fitness (survival and reproduction) in that environment than do Daphnia adapted to cold environments. Daphnia also move extensively across the landscape, such as when their resting eggs stick to a bird’s legs. So how will adaptation and dispersal interact to shape community assembly under climate warming? Perhaps northern cold-adapted populations will simply be replaced by migrants from southern populations that have a long history of adaptation to warm conditions. Alternatively, perhaps northern cold-adapted populations will rapidly adapt to the warming conditions, and thereby exclude the southern immigrants that would otherwise have been better suited for the new warmer conditions.
|The Basic Experiment: Image stolen from one of Luc De Meester's presentations.|
Wendy Van Doorslaer, Luc De Meester and colleagues tested these possibilities by placing cold-adapted Daphnia clones from the UK into unheated (colder) and heated (warmer) mesocosms. After allowing the Daphnia to evolve for 1.5 years, they competed the two types of UK clones (from the warm treatment and from the cold treatment) against warm-adapted French clones from France. Under warm test conditions, the French clones were trounced by the UK clones – but only the UK clones that had been adapting in the heated tanks. In short, a period of adaptation by the UK clones to warm conditions had a huge effect in maintaining their success in the face of invading French clones. Evolutionary monopolization made flesh.
|More Experimental Details: Image stolen from one of Luc De Meester's presentations.|
I was telling this story to my lab group because we had recently read a couple of papers that had discussed community and evolutionary monopolization. I described the French versus UK Daphnia results and pointed out that Luc likes to invoke the 1000 years of French–UK human conflict as a way of adding humor to this French–UK Daphnia death match. At precisely this time, Québec was in the throes of a contentious election, pitting the incumbent Québec separatist party – the Parti Québécoise – against the opposition federalist Québec Liberal Party. This context means that the constant tension (or at least discussion) of Francophone vs. Anglophone issues in Québec was firmly in our minds – and we couldn’t help but start to wonder if Québec provided a useful (or at least fun and topical) analogy.
|The Key Result: Image stolen from one of Luc De Meester's presentations.|
As time went on, however, the British population in Canada dramatically increased. The coincident increase in British immigration into Québec (from the rest of Canada) eventually started to overwhelm the French population (a similar effect – higher immigration can overcome the priority effect – is seen in the Daphnia experiments). Before the French population became a minority, however, they elected a series of governments that brought in language laws favorable to the French: Immigrants from Canada must send their kids to French school (Québec residents also must do so). Outside advertising has to be in French (including business names – KFC becomes Poulet Frit Kentucky). And so on. This created a new form of monopolization: cultural monopolization.
|Translation = KFC. Image Source.|
In cultural monopolization (I just made this term up, although it seems likely to already exist), governments and other societal institutions enact rules, regulations, and norms that favor the local populace over immigrants. And it seems to have worked in Québec. In a relatively short time, many English businesses left Québec and the proportion of Anglophones (and Allophones) stopped increasing. The result was a “niche constructed” cultural version of evolutionary monopolization, where local conditions are altered through time to be favorable to the local population and unfavorable to foreign immigrants.
|Parti Québécoise leader resigns in wake of election defeat. Source.|
Interestingly, results of the election described above suggest cultural monopolization might be weakening. The party in power (the Parti Québécoise) was pushing, as a major campaign promise, a bill (the Québec Charter) that would have placed severe restrictions on immigrant non-Québec cultural expression, especially religious symbols of non-Catholics. I am pleased to say, however, that this strategy did not play well to the Québec electorate. The Parti Québécoise went down to a resounding defeat at the hands of the more tolerant Québec liberals. Along the same lines, the Québec separatist party at the Canadian Federal level (the Bloc Québécoise) was soundly defeated – obliterated, really – by Québec voters in the last federal election. A cynic might say that immigration is again starting to overwhelm Québec culture and that we need more efforts at community (and cultural) monopolization. But I am not a cynic. I think the changing tide indicates that the Québec public have a growing confidence that their culture is strong and interesting and will now survive without needing additional institutional protections. Cultural monopolization has become coolness monopolization. That is why my kids are in French school and someday I expect to have to entertain Francophone boyfriends. Of course, they will have to be speaking English if they want to communicate with me – familial monopolization?
Thanks to Gregor Rolshausen for the title of this post.