Feb 2, 2016

Bigger Is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Timothée BonnetE Postma

Abstract

In natural populations, quantitative trait dynamics often do not appear to follow evolutionary predictions: Despite abundant examples of natural selection acting on heritable traits, conclusive evidence for contemporary adaptive evolution remains rare for wild vertebrate populations, and phenotypic stasis seems to be the norm. This so-called ‘stasis paradox’ highlights our inability to predict evolutionary change, which is especially concerning within the context of rapid anthropogenic environmental change. While the causes underlying the stasis paradox are hotly debated, comprehensive attempts aiming at a resolution are lacking. Here we apply a quantitative genetic framework to individual-based long-term data for a wild rodent population and show that despite a positive association between body mass and fitness, there has been a genetic change towards lower body mass. The latter represents an adaptive response to viability selection favouring juveniles growing up to become relatively small adults, i.e. with a low potential adult mass, which presumably complete their development earlier. This selection is particularly strong towards the end of the snow-free season, and it has intensified in recent years, coinciding which a chan...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Vertebrates
Patterns
Lower Body Structure
Adaptation
Cell Survival
Humoral Immune Response
Body Mass Index
Rodent
Genetic Techniques
Mutation Abnormality

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