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Investigating yellow dung fly body size evolution in the field: Response to climate change?


Blanckenhorn, Wolf U (2015). Investigating yellow dung fly body size evolution in the field: Response to climate change? Evolution, 69(8):2227-2234.

Abstract

Uncovering genetic responses to selection in wild populations typically requires tracking individuals over generations and use of animal models. Our group monitored the body size of one Swiss Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria; Diptera: Scathophagidae) field population over 15 years, including intermittent common-garden rearing in the laboratory to assess body size with minimized environmental and maximized genetic variation. Contrary to expectations based on repeated heritability and phenotypic selection assessments over the years (reported elsewhere), field body sizes declined by >10% and common-garden laboratory sizes by >5% from 1993 to 2009. Our results confirm the temperature-size rule (smaller when warmer) and, albeit entirely correlational, could be mediated by climate change, as over this period mean temperature at the site increased by 0.5°C, although alternative systematic environmental changes cannot be entirely excluded. Monitoring genetic responses to selection in wild invertebrate populations is thus possible, though indirect, and wild populations may evolve in directions not consistent with strongly positive directional selection favoring large body size.

Abstract

Uncovering genetic responses to selection in wild populations typically requires tracking individuals over generations and use of animal models. Our group monitored the body size of one Swiss Yellow Dung Fly (Scathophaga stercoraria; Diptera: Scathophagidae) field population over 15 years, including intermittent common-garden rearing in the laboratory to assess body size with minimized environmental and maximized genetic variation. Contrary to expectations based on repeated heritability and phenotypic selection assessments over the years (reported elsewhere), field body sizes declined by >10% and common-garden laboratory sizes by >5% from 1993 to 2009. Our results confirm the temperature-size rule (smaller when warmer) and, albeit entirely correlational, could be mediated by climate change, as over this period mean temperature at the site increased by 0.5°C, although alternative systematic environmental changes cannot be entirely excluded. Monitoring genetic responses to selection in wild invertebrate populations is thus possible, though indirect, and wild populations may evolve in directions not consistent with strongly positive directional selection favoring large body size.

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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)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Genetics
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:21 Jan 2016 11:21
Last Modified:30 Jul 2020 20:23
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0014-3820
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12726

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