The Dynamics of Phenotypic Change and the Shrinking Sheep of St. Kilda

Arpat Ozgul, Shripad Tuljapurkar, Tim G. Benton, Josephine M. Pemberton, Tim H. Clutton-Brock, Tim Coulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Environmental change, including climate change, can cause rapid phenotypic change via both ecological and evolutionary processes. Because ecological and evolutionary dynamics are intimately linked, a major challenge is to identify their relative roles. We exactly decomposed the change in mean body weight in a free-living population of Soay sheep into all the processes that contribute to change. Ecological processes contribute most, with selection-the underpinning of adaptive evolution-explaining little of the observed phenotypic trend. Our results enable us to explain why selection has so little effect even though weight is heritable, and why environmental change has caused a decline in the body size of Soay sheep.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-467
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume325
Issue number5939
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2009

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