OOS 15-2 - Detecting climate change responses in the wild: Problems and prospects

Tuesday, August 7, 2012: 1:50 PM
A106, Oregon Convention Center
Juha Merilä, Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Climate change, human induced habitat changes and harvesting are all factors that impact upon wild populations creating directional selection on heritable phenotypic traits. Since heritable phenotypic traits should respond on directional selection, evolution in response to these human induced selection pressures should be of commonplace occurrence. Yet, in stark contrast to abundant evidence for local adaptation and even rapid evolution in response natural selective agents, unequivocal evidence for climate change mediated evolution is as yet scarce. In my presentation, I will discuss upon the problems involved with detecting evolutionary changes in response to climate change mediated selection in the light of evidence from literature.


While the difficulty of obtaining genetic data to prove that observed phenotypic shifts in population mean phenotypes associate with climate change is likely to be an important contributor to paucity of evidence for climate change mediated evolution, there are also other explanations. These explanations, as well as approaches potentially useful for identification evolutionary adaptation to climate change will be in focus of my presentation.