Thirty-four years of climatic selection in the land snail Theba pisana.
ABSTRACT: Few continuous, long-term studies have measured the intensity and variability of natural selection within a framework of clear adaptive hypotheses. In the snail Theba pisana, the proportion of effectively unbanded shells is higher in exposed habitats than in adjacent acacia thickets, which has been explained by microclimatic selection. Comparisons across an ecotone for 34 consecutive years determined the combined effects on morph frequencies of habitat and changes in weather conditions during summer. The long-term average (±s.e.) frequency of effectively unbanded shells was 0.577±0.011 in the open habitat when compared with 0.353±0.005 in the acacia. The persistent association of shell banding with habitat accounted for 34% of the variation in morph frequencies. Differences among years were also large, representing 23% of the variation. Higher proportions of effectively unbanded snails were associated with hotter, sunnier summers. Thus, temporal variation supports the hypothesis of microclimatic selection, consistent with the spatial association with habitat. Based on observed rates of change, the mean annual selection on this polymorphism was about 0.13, but with a large variance: s was as high as 0.5, but ?0.05 in about 40% of the years. The large variance and frequent reversals in direction of selection indicate a potential for rapid genetic change, but with little net change in morph frequencies over three decades, highlighting the value of long-term continuous studies of populations facing natural environmental variation.
Project description:Hotter conditions favour effectively unbanded (EUB) shells in the snail Theba pisana. T. pisana is also polymorphic for colour of the shell's apex, determined by a pair of alleles at a locus linked to the banding locus. Apex colour is epistatic to shell banding, such that banded snails with a dark apex have darker bands. Annual censuses over 22 years across an ecotone between a sheltered Acacia thicket and open dune vegetation showed a persistent association of both EUB shells and pale apex with the Open habitat. The parallel variation was due partly to strong phenotypic disequilibrium, as the combination of EUB with dark apex was rare. Nevertheless, in fully banded shells the frequency of pale apex was also higher in the Open habitat, confirming independent, parallel associations of the two contributors to paleness. Within the Acacia habitat, temporal variation of the frequencies of banding morphs was much greater than for apex colour, and EUB shells were associated with hotter summers. Consistent with its primary effect only on the very small snails, apex colour did not vary with summer conditions, but instead, higher frequencies of pale apices were associated with sunnier winters. The intensity of selection was lower on apex colour than shell banding, due partly to the constraint of phenotypic disequilibrium. The shell traits in T. pisana are an example of complex responses to climatic variation, in which phenotypic disequilibrium constrains evolution of apex colour, but separate mechanisms of selection are evident.
Project description:I made use of the known dates of reclamation (and of afforestations) in the IJsselmeerpolders in The Netherlands to assess evolutionary adaptation in Cepaea nemoralis. At 12 localities (three in each polder), I sampled a total of 4390 adult individuals in paired open and shaded habitats, on average 233?m apart, and scored these for genetic shell colour polymorphisms. The results show (highly) significant differentiation at most localities, although the genes involved differed per locality. Overall, though, populations in shaded habitats had evolved towards darker shells than those in adjacent open habitats, whereas a 'Cain & Sheppard' diagram (proportion yellow shells plotted against 'effectively unbanded' shells) failed to reveal a clear pattern. This might suggest that thermal selection is more important than visual selection in generating this pattern. Trait differentiation, regardless of whether they were plotted against polder age or habitat age, showed a linear increase of differentiation with time, corresponding to a mean rate of trait evolution of 15-31 kilodarwin. In conclusion, C. nemoralis is capable of rapid and considerable evolutionary differentiation over 1-25 snail generations, though equilibrium may be reached only at longer time scales.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Identifying the causes of intraspecific phenotypic variation is essential for understanding evolutionary processes that maintain diversity and promote speciation. In polymorphic species, the relative frequencies of discrete morphs often vary geographically; yet the drivers of spatial variation in morph frequencies are seldom known. Here, we test the relative importance of gene flow and natural selection to identify the causes of geographic variation in colour morph frequencies in the Australian tawny dragon lizard, Ctenophorus decresii. RESULTS:Populations of C. decresii are polymorphic for male throat coloration and all populations surveyed shared the same four morphs but differed in the relative frequencies of morphs. Despite genetic structure among populations, there was no relationship between genetic similarity or geographic proximity and similarity in morph frequencies. However, we detected remarkably strong associations between morph frequencies and two environmental variables (mean annual aridity index and vegetation cover), which together explained approximately 45 % of the total variance in morph frequencies. CONCLUSIONS:Spatial variation in selection appears to play an important role in shaping morph frequency patterns in C. decresii. Selection associated with differences in local environmental conditions, combined with relatively low levels of gene flow, is expected to favour population divergence in morph composition, but may be counteracted by negative frequency-dependent selection favouring rare morphs.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Patterns of spatial variation in discrete phenotypic traits can be used to draw inferences about the adaptive significance of traits and evolutionary processes, especially when compared to patterns of neutral genetic variation. Population divergence in adaptive traits such as color morphs can be influenced by both local ecology and stochastic factors such as genetic drift or founder events. Here, we use quantitative color measurements of males and females of Skyros wall lizard, Podarcis gaigeae, to demonstrate that this species is polymorphic with respect to throat color, and the morphs form discrete phenotypic clusters with limited overlap between categories. We use divergence in throat color morph frequencies and compare that to neutral genetic variation to infer the evolutionary processes acting on islet- and mainland populations. RESULTS:Geographically close islet- and mainland populations of the Skyros wall lizard exhibit strong divergence in throat color morph frequencies. Population variation in throat color morph frequencies between islets was higher than that between mainland populations, and the effective population sizes on the islets were small (Ne:s < 100). Population divergence (FST) for throat color morph frequencies fell within the neutral FST-distribution estimated from microsatellite markers, and genetic drift could thus not be rejected as an explanation for the pattern. Moreover, for both comparisons among mainland-mainland population pairs and between mainland-islet population pairs, morph frequency divergence was significantly correlated with neutral divergence, further pointing to some role for genetic drift in divergence also at the phenotypic level of throat color morphs. CONCLUSIONS:Genetic drift could not be rejected as an explanation for the pattern of population divergence in morph frequencies. In spite of an expected stabilising selection, throat color frequencies diverged in the islet populations. These results suggest that there is an interaction between selection and genetic drift causing divergence even at a phenotypic level in these small, subdivided populations.
Project description:Discrete color polymorphisms represent a fascinating aspect of intraspecific diversity. Color morph ratios often vary clinally, but in some cases, there are no marked clines and mixes of different morphs occur at appreciable frequencies in most populations. This poses the questions of how polymorphisms are maintained. We here study the spatial and temporal distribution of a very conspicuous color polymorphism in the club-legged grasshopper Gomphocerus sibiricus. The species occurs in a green and a nongreen (predominately brown) morph, a green-brown polymorphism that is common among Orthopteran insects. We sampled color morph ratios at 42 sites across the alpine range of the species and related color morph ratios to local habitat parameters and climatic conditions. Green morphs occurred in both sexes, and their morph ratios were highly correlated among sites, suggesting shared control of the polymorphism in females and males. We found that in at least 40 of 42 sites green and brown morphs co-occurred with proportions of green ranging from 0% to 70% with significant spatial heterogeneity. The proportion of green individuals tended to increase with decreasing summer and winter precipitations. Nongreen individuals can be further distinguished into brown and pied individuals, and again, this polymorphism is shared with other grasshopper species. We found pied individuals at all sites with proportions ranging from 3% to 75%, with slight, but significant variation between years. Pied morphs show a clinal increase in frequency from east to west and decreased with altitude and lower temperatures and were more common on grazed sites. The results suggest that both small-scale and large-scale spatial heterogeneity affects color morph ratios. The almost universal co-occurrence of all three color morphs argues against strong effects of genetic drift. Instead, the data suggest that small-scale migration-selection balance and/or local balancing selection maintain populations polymorphic.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Sex-limited polymorphisms have long intrigued evolutionary biologists and have been the subject of long-standing debates. The coexistence of multiple male and/or female morphs is widely believed to be maintained through negative frequency-dependent selection imposed by social interactions. However, remarkably few empirical studies have evaluated how social interactions, morph frequencies and fitness parameters relate to one another under natural conditions. Here, we test two hypotheses proposed to explain the maintenance of a female polymorphism in a species with extreme geographical variation in morph frequencies. We first elucidate how fecundity traits of the morphs vary in relation to the frequencies and densities of males and female morphs in multiple sites over multiple years. Second, we evaluate whether the two female morphs differ in resource allocation among fecundity traits, indicating alternative tactics to maximize reproductive output.<h4>Results</h4>We present some of the first empirical evidence collected under natural conditions that egg number and clutch mass was higher in the rarer female morph. This morph-specific fecundity advantage gradually switched with the population morph frequency. Our results further indicate that all investigated fecundity traits are negatively affected by relative male density (i.e. operational sex ratio), which confirms male harassment as selective agent. Finally, we show a clear trade-off between qualitative (egg mass) and quantitative (egg number) fecundity traits. This trade-off, however, is not morph-specific.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our reported frequency- and density-dependent fecundity patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that the polymorphism is driven by a conflict between sexes over optimal mating rate, with costly male sexual harassment driving negative frequency-dependent selection on morph fecundity.
Project description:Disentangling the relative importance and potential interactions of selection and genetic drift in driving phenotypic divergence of species is a classical research topic in population genetics and evolutionary biology. Here, we evaluate the role of stochastic and selective forces on population divergence of a colour polymorphism in seven damselfly species of the genus Ischnura, with a particular focus on I. elegans and I. graellsii. Colour-morph frequencies in Spanish I. elegans populations varied greatly, even at a local scale, whereas more similar frequencies were found among populations in eastern Europe. In contrast, I. graellsii and the other five Ischnura species showed little variation in colour-morph frequencies between populations. F(ST)-outlier analyses revealed that the colour locus deviated strongly from neutral expectations in Spanish populations of I. elegans, contrasting the pattern found in eastern European populations, and in I. graellsii, where no such discrepancy between morph divergence and neutral divergence could be detected. This suggests that divergent selection has been operating on the colour locus in Spanish populations of I. elegans, whereas processes such as genetic drift, possibly in combination with other forms of selection (such as negative frequency-dependent selection), appear to have been present in other regions, such as eastern Europe. Overall, the results indicate that both selective and stochastic processes operate on these colour polymorphisms, and suggest that the relative importance of factors varies between geographical regions.
Project description:Spatial variation in the direction of selection drives the evolution of adaptive differentiation. However, few experimental studies have examined the relative importance of different environmental factors for variation in selection and evolutionary trajectories in natural populations. Here, we combine 8 y of observational data and field experiments to assess the relative importance of mutualistic and antagonistic interactions for spatial variation in selection and short-term evolution of a genetically based floral display dimorphism in the short-lived perennial herb Primula farinosa. Natural populations of this species include two floral morphs: long-scaped plants that present their flowers well above the ground and short-scaped plants with flowers positioned close to the ground. The direction and magnitude of selection on scape morph varied among populations, and so did the frequency of the short morph (median 19%, range 0-100%; n = 69 populations). A field experiment replicated at four sites demonstrated that variation in the strength of interactions with grazers and pollinators were responsible for among-population differences in relative fitness of the two morphs. Selection exerted by grazers favored the short-scaped morph, whereas pollinator-mediated selection favored the long-scaped morph. Moreover, variation in selection among natural populations was associated with differences in morph frequency change, and the experimental removal of grazers at nine sites significantly reduced the frequency of the short-scaped morph over 8 y. The results demonstrate that spatial variation in intensity of grazing and pollination produces a selection mosaic, and that changes in biotic interactions can trigger rapid genetic changes in natural plant populations.
Project description:Although shell colour polymorphism of the land snail Cepaea nemoralis is a well-known phenomenon, proximate and ultimate factors driving its evolution remain uncertain. Polymorphic species show variation in behavioural responses to selective forces. Therefore, we estimated effects of various environmental factors (temperature, humidity, food availability, (micro)habitat structure and predatory pressure) on behavioural response (frequency of locomotion, climbing and hiding) of C. nemoralis morphs, in experimental and natural conditions. In the experimental part of study, the frequency of locomotion was negatively affected by temperature and the presence of food and positively influenced by the presence of light. Morphs significantly differed in behavioural responses to environmental variability. Pink mid-banded and yellow five-banded morphs climbed less often and hide in shelter more often than yellow and pink unbanded individuals when temperature was low and food was absent. Snails fed most often at moderate temperature compared to low and high temperatures. Field investigations partially confirmed differences among morphs in frequency of climbing, but not in terms of probability of hiding in sheltered sites. In natural colonies, temperature and (micro)habitat structure significantly affected frequency of climbing as well as hiding in shelter. Snails more often hid in sheltered sites where thrushes preyed on Cepaea. Tendency of unbanded morphs to climb trees may have evolved under avian predatory pressure as thrushes forage on a ground. Tendency of banded morphs to hide in sheltered sites may reflect prey preferences for cryptic background. The results implicate that differential behaviour of C. nemoralis morphs compensate for their morphological and physiological limitations of adaptation to habitat.
Project description:The balance between stochastic forces and negative frequency-dependent selection largely determines style morph frequencies in heterostylous populations. Investigation of morph frequencies at geographical range limits can provide insights into the forces maintaining the floral polymorphism, and the factors causing biased morph ratios. Here, we investigate style morph frequencies in populations at the south-western European range limit of tristylous Lythrum salicaria, to explore the role of demographic and geographical factors influencing morph ratios in its native range.We measured morph composition and evenness, and the size of 96 populations, along a north to south latitudinal transect from Galicia to Andalucia, Iberian Peninsula, traversing a steep climatic gradient. To examine the potential influence of morph-specific fitness components on morph ratios, we examined reproductive traits in 19 populations.Most populations of L. salicaria were trimorphic (94·79?%), the majority exhibiting 1?:?1?:?1 morph ratios (68·75?%). Populations with biased morph ratios had a deficiency of the short-styled morph. Population size and morph evenness were positively associated with latitude, with smaller populations and those with less even morph ratios occurring towards the south. Greater variance in morph evenness was evident at the southern range margin. There were no consistent differences in components of reproductive fitness among style morphs, but southern populations produced less fruit and seed than more northerly populations.Our results demonstrate the influence of finite population size on morph frequencies in L. salicaria. However, they also illustrate the resilience of Iberian populations to the factors causing deviations from isoplethy and morph loss, especially at the southern range limit where populations are smaller. The maintenance of tristyly in small populations of L. salicaria may be aided by the genetic connectivity of populations in agricultural landscapes resulting from gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal.