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Phenological shifts in North American red squirrels: disentangling the roles of phenotypic plasticity and microevolution
Univ Saskatchewan, Biol, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
Univ Guelph, Integrat Biol, Guelph, ON, Canada.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics.
Univ Alaska Fairbanks, Inst Arctic Biol, Fairbanks, AK USA.
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2018 (English)In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, ISSN 1010-061X, E-ISSN 1420-9101, Vol. 31, no 6, p. 810-821Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Phenological shifts are the most widely reported ecological responses to climate change, but the requirements to distinguish their causes (i.e. phenotypic plasticity vs. microevolution) are rarely met. To do so, we analysed almost two decades of parturition data from a wild population of North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). Although an observed advance in parturition date during the first decade provided putative support for climate change-driven microevolution, a closer look revealed a more complex pattern. Parturition date was heritable [h(2)=0.14 (0.07-0.21 (HPD interval)] and under phenotypic selection [=-0.14 +/- 0.06 (SE)] across the full study duration. However, the early advance reversed in the second decade. Further, selection did not act on the genetic contribution to variation in parturition date, and observed changes in predicted breeding values did not exceed those expected due to genetic drift. Instead, individuals responded plastically to environmental variation, and high food [white spruce (Picea glauca) seed] production in the first decade appears to have produced a plastic advance. In addition, there was little evidence of climate change affecting the advance, as there was neither a significant influence of spring temperature on parturition date or evidence of a change in spring temperatures across the study duration. Heritable traits not responding to selection in accordance with quantitative genetic predictions have long presented a puzzle to evolutionary ecologists. Our results on red squirrels provide empirical support for one potential solution: phenotypic selection arising from an environmental, as opposed to genetic, covariance between the phenotypic trait and annual fitness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY , 2018. Vol. 31, no 6, p. 810-821
Keywords [en]
breeding value, climate change, microevolution, phenology, phenotypic plasticity, Robertson-Price identity
National Category
Environmental Sciences Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-358079DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13263ISI: 000434358800003PubMedID: 29518280OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-358079DiVA, id: diva2:1243139
Available from: 2018-08-30 Created: 2018-08-30 Last updated: 2018-08-30Bibliographically approved

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