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Environmental Change, If Unaccounted, Prevents Detection of Cryptic Evolution in a Wild Population.

Authors
  • Potter, Tomos
  • Bassar, Ronald D
  • Bentzen, Paul
  • Ruell, Emily W
  • Torres-Dowdall, Julián
  • Handelsman, Corey A
  • Ghalambor, Cameron K
  • Travis, Joseph
  • Reznick, David N
  • Coulson, Tim
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American Naturalist
Publisher
The University of Chicago Press
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
Volume
197
Issue
1
Pages
29–46
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1086/711874
PMID: 33417522
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

AbstractDetecting contemporary evolution requires demonstrating that genetic change has occurred. Mixed effects models allow estimation of quantitative genetic parameters and are widely used to study evolution in wild populations. However, predictions of evolution based on these parameters frequently fail to match observations. Here, we applied three commonly used quantitative genetic approaches to predict the evolution of size at maturity in a wild population of Trinidadian guppies. Crucially, we tested our predictions against evolutionary change observed in common-garden experiments performed on samples from the same population. We show that standard quantitative genetic models underestimated or failed to detect the cryptic evolution of this trait as demonstrated by the common-garden experiments. The models failed because (1) size at maturity and fitness both decreased with increases in population density, (2) offspring experienced higher population densities than their parents, and (3) selection on size was strongest at high densities. When we accounted for environmental change, predictions better matched observations in the common-garden experiments, although substantial uncertainty remained. Our results demonstrate that predictions of evolution are unreliable if environmental change is not appropriately captured in models.

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