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Fluctuating optimum and temporally variable selection on breeding date in birds and mammals


de Villemereuil, Pierre; Charmantier, Anne; Arlt, Debora; et al; Hegelbach, Johann (2020). Fluctuating optimum and temporally variable selection on breeding date in birds and mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(50):31969-31978.

Abstract

Temporal variation in natural selection is predicted to strongly impact the evolution and demography of natural populations, with consequences for the rate of adaptation, evolution of plasticity, and extinction risk. Most of the theory underlying these predictions assumes a moving optimum phenotype, with predictions expressed in terms of the temporal variance and autocorrelation of this optimum. However, empirical studies seldom estimate patterns of fluctuations of an optimum phenotype, precluding further progress in connecting theory with observations. To bridge this gap, we assess the evidence for temporal variation in selection on breeding date by modeling a fitness function with a fluctuating optimum, across 39 populations of 21 wild animals, one of the largest compilations of long-term datasets with individual measurements of trait and fitness components. We find compelling evidence for fluctuations in the fitness function, causing temporal variation in the magnitude, but not the direction of selection. However, fluctuations of the optimum phenotype need not directly translate into variation in selection gradients, because their impact can be buffered by partial tracking of the optimum by the mean phenotype. Analyzing individuals that reproduce in consecutive years, we find that plastic changes track movements of the optimum phenotype across years, especially in bird species, reducing temporal variation in directional selection. This suggests that phenological plasticity has evolved to cope with fluctuations in the optimum, despite their currently modest contribution to variation in selection.

Abstract

Temporal variation in natural selection is predicted to strongly impact the evolution and demography of natural populations, with consequences for the rate of adaptation, evolution of plasticity, and extinction risk. Most of the theory underlying these predictions assumes a moving optimum phenotype, with predictions expressed in terms of the temporal variance and autocorrelation of this optimum. However, empirical studies seldom estimate patterns of fluctuations of an optimum phenotype, precluding further progress in connecting theory with observations. To bridge this gap, we assess the evidence for temporal variation in selection on breeding date by modeling a fitness function with a fluctuating optimum, across 39 populations of 21 wild animals, one of the largest compilations of long-term datasets with individual measurements of trait and fitness components. We find compelling evidence for fluctuations in the fitness function, causing temporal variation in the magnitude, but not the direction of selection. However, fluctuations of the optimum phenotype need not directly translate into variation in selection gradients, because their impact can be buffered by partial tracking of the optimum by the mean phenotype. Analyzing individuals that reproduce in consecutive years, we find that plastic changes track movements of the optimum phenotype across years, especially in bird species, reducing temporal variation in directional selection. This suggests that phenological plasticity has evolved to cope with fluctuations in the optimum, despite their currently modest contribution to variation in selection.

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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:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:15 December 2020
Deposited On:04 Jan 2021 09:05
Last Modified:05 Jan 2021 21:01
Publisher:National Academy of Sciences
ISSN:0027-8424
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2009003117
PubMed ID:33257553

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