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The effect of metapopulation processes on the spatial scale of adaptation across an environmental gradient

Wynne, I.R.; Wilson, R.J.; Burke, A.S.; Simpson, F.; Pullin, A.S.; Thomas, C.D.; Mallet, J.; (2003) The effect of metapopulation processes on the spatial scale of adaptation across an environmental gradient. Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

We show that the butterfly Aricia agestis (Lycaenidae) is adapted to its thermal environment in via integer changes in the numbers of generations per year (voltinism): it has two generations per year in warm habitats and one generation per year in cool habitats in north Wales (UK). Voltinism is an “adaptive peak” since individuals having an intermediate number of generations per year would fail to survive the winter, and indeed no populations showed both voltinism types in nature. In spite of this general pattern, 11% of populations apparently possess the “wrong” voltinism for their local environment, and population densities were lower in thermally intermediate habitat patches. Population dynamic data and patterns of genetic differentiation suggest that adaptation occurs at the metapopulation level, with local populations possessing the voltinism type appropriate for the commonest habitat type within each population network. When populations and groups of populations go extinct, they tend to be replaced by colonists from the commonest thermal environment nearby, even if this is the locally incorrect adaptation. Our results illustrate how stochastic population turnover can impose a limit on local adaptation over distances many times larger than predicted on the basis of normal dispersal movements.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: The effect of metapopulation processes on the spatial scale of adaptation across an environmental gradient
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/biology/
Language: English
Additional information: Initially intended for publication in The American Naturalist
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19259
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