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Environmental variation and biotic interactions limit adaptation at ecological margins: lessons from rainforest Drosophila and European butterflies

O'Brien, Eleanor K; Walter, Greg M; Bridle, Jon; (2022) Environmental variation and biotic interactions limit adaptation at ecological margins: lessons from rainforest Drosophila and European butterflies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 377 (1848) , Article 20210017. 10.1098/rstb.2021.0017. Green open access

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Abstract

Models of local adaptation to spatially varying selection predict that maximum rates of evolution are determined by the interaction between increased adaptive potential owing to increased genetic variation, and the cost genetic variation brings by reducing population fitness. We discuss existing and new results from our laboratory assays and field transplants of rainforest Drosophila and UK butterflies along environmental gradients, which try to test these predictions in natural populations. Our data suggest that: (i) local adaptation along ecological gradients is not consistently observed in time and space, especially where biotic and abiotic interactions affect both gradient steepness and genetic variation in fitness; (ii) genetic variation in fitness observed in the laboratory is only sometimes visible to selection in the field, suggesting that demographic costs can remain high without increasing adaptive potential; and (iii) antagonistic interactions between species reduce local productivity, especially at ecological margins. Such antagonistic interactions steepen gradients and may increase the cost of adaptation by increasing its dimensionality. However, where biotic interactions do evolve, rapid range expansion can follow. Future research should test how the environmental sensitivity of genotypes determines their ecological exposure, and its effects on genetic variation in fitness, to predict the probability of evolutionary rescue at ecological margins. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Species’ ranges in the face of changing environments (Part II)’.

Type: Article
Title: Environmental variation and biotic interactions limit adaptation at ecological margins: lessons from rainforest Drosophila and European butterflies
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0017
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2021.0017
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: field transplants, genetic load, local adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, range margins, species interactions
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10144911
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