The role of selection and evolution in changing parturition date in a red deer population

Timothée Bonnet, Michael B. Morrissey, Alison Morris, Sean Morris, Tim H. Clutton-Brock, Josephine Pemberton, Loeske Kruuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Changing environmental conditions cause changes in the distributions of phenotypic traits in natural populations. However, determining the mechanisms responsible for these changes and, in particular, the relative contributions of phenotypic plasticity vs evolutionary responses, is difficult. To our knowledge, no study has yet reported evidence that evolutionary change underlies the most widely-reported phenotypic response to climate change: the advancement of breeding times. In a wild population of red deer, average parturition date has advanced by nearly two weeks in four decades. Here we quantify the contribution of plastic, demographic and genetic components to this change. In particular, we quantify the role of direct phenotypic plasticity in response to increasing temperatures and the role of changes in the population structure. Importantly, we show that adaptive evolution likely played a role in the shift towards
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS Biology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2019

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