Dr Kiyoko Gotanda, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department, and colleagues, from around the world, have opened up investigations into the effects of climate change on natural selection. Their article, just published in Science magazine, suggests that precipitation may well influence evolutionary adaptation.
Climate change has the potential to affect the ecology and evolution of every species on Earth. While the ecological consequences of climate change are increasingly well documented, the effects of climate on the key evolutionary process driving adaptation—natural selection—is largely unknown. We report that aspects of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, along with the North Atlantic Oscillation, predicted variation in selection across plant and animal populations throughout many terrestrial biomes, whereas temperature explained little variation. By showing that selection was influenced by climate variation, our results indicate that climate change may cause widespread alterations in selection regimes, potentially shifting evolutionary trajectories at a global scale.
The image shown on the home page was taken by Kiyoko’s colleague, Sarah Knutie, in Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos Islands. Kiyoko is there now, doing some further field work and, we hope, blogging about it at: http://kokogalapagos.blogspot.com.