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The dynamics of phenotypic change and the shrinking sheep of St. Kilda


Ozgul, Arpat; Tuljapurkar, Shripad; Benton, Tim G; Pemberton, Josephine M; Clutton-Brock, Tim H; Coulson, Tim (2009). The dynamics of phenotypic change and the shrinking sheep of St. Kilda. Science, 325(5939):464-467.

Abstract

Environmental change, including climate change, can cause rapid phenotypic change via both ecological and evolutionary processes. Because ecological and evolutionary dynamics are intimately linked, a major challenge is to identify their relative roles. We exactly decomposed the change in mean body weight in a free-living population of Soay sheep into all the processes that contribute to change. Ecological processes contribute most, with selection-the underpinning of adaptive evolution-explaining little of the observed phenotypic trend. Our results enable us to explain why selection has so little effect even though weight is heritable, and why environmental change has caused a decline in the body size of Soay sheep.

Abstract

Environmental change, including climate change, can cause rapid phenotypic change via both ecological and evolutionary processes. Because ecological and evolutionary dynamics are intimately linked, a major challenge is to identify their relative roles. We exactly decomposed the change in mean body weight in a free-living population of Soay sheep into all the processes that contribute to change. Ecological processes contribute most, with selection-the underpinning of adaptive evolution-explaining little of the observed phenotypic trend. Our results enable us to explain why selection has so little effect even though weight is heritable, and why environmental change has caused a decline in the body size of Soay sheep.

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159 citations in Web of Science®
154 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:28 Mar 2013 14:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:41
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN:0036-8075
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1173668

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