Natural Selection: Responses to Current (Anthropogenic) Environmental Changes

Abstract

Human‐caused changes in the environment are pervasive, as are evolutionary responses to these changes by living organisms. Selective responses to anthropogenic environmental change have thus been the topic of extensive research, providing hundreds of well‐documented cases of natural selection in action. Many of these responses are also of great importance from an ecological, economic and human health perspective.

Keywords: evolution; global environmental change; ecological genetics

Figure 1.

Schematic illustration of selection effects on populations with broad versus narrow response breadths. The population with a broad response displays sufficient genetic variability to respond to a change in environmental state, whereas the population with a narrow response would go extinct in response to this selection pressure.

Figure 2.

Evolved resistance to the biological insecticide Bt in the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella, and important pest of cabbage and related vegetables (Tabashnik, ). (a) Susceptible strains are rapidly killed following exposure to Bt, resulting in undamaged cabbage leaves. (b) Caterpillars from a resistant population of diamondback moth eat a Bt‐treated cabbage leaf with impunity. Photographs courtesy of Bruce Tabashnik, University of Arizona.

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References

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Further Reading

Bradshaw AD and McNeilly T (1991) Evolutionary response to global climate change. Annals of Botany 67: S5–S14.

Endler JA (1986) Natural Selection in the Wild. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hoffmann AA and Parsons PA (1991) Evolutionary Genetics and Environmental Stress. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Körner C and Bazzaz FA (eds) (1996) Carbon Dioxide, Populations, and Communities. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Woodwell GM (ed.) (1990) The Earth in Transition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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How to Cite close
Thomas, Sean C, and Kingsolver, Joel G(Sep 2001) Natural Selection: Responses to Current (Anthropogenic) Environmental Changes. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001789]