3 years ago

The power of evolutionary rescue is constrained by genetic load

Allison B. Genis, Brett A. Melbourne, Madeline R. Morris, Gavin S. Stewart, Marianna Szűcs, Simon J. Tavener, Ruth A. Hufbauer
The risk of extinction faced by small isolated populations in changing environments can be reduced by rapid adaptation and subsequent growth to larger, less vulnerable sizes. Whether this process, called evolutionary rescue, is able to reduce extinction risk and sustain population growth over multiple generations is largely unknown. To understand the consequences of adaptive evolution as well as maladaptive processes in small isolated populations, we subjected experimental Tribolium castaneum populations founded with 10 or 40 individuals to novel environments, one more favorable, and one resource poor, and either allowed evolution, or constrained it by replacing individuals one-for-one each generation with those from a large population maintained in the natal environment. Replacement individuals spent one generation in the target novel environment before use to standardize effects due to the parental environment. After eight generations we mixed a subset of surviving populations to facilitate admixture, allowing us to estimate drift load by comparing performance of mixed to unmixed groups. Evolving populations had reduced extinction rates, and increased population sizes in the first four to five generations compared to populations where evolution was constrained. Performance of evolving populations subsequently declined. Admixture restored their performance, indicating high drift load that may have overwhelmed the beneficial effects of adaptation in evolving populations. Our results indicate that evolution may quickly reduce extinction risk and increase population sizes, but suggest that relying solely on adaptation from standing genetic variation may not provide long-term benefits to small isolated populations of diploid sexual species, and that active management facilitating gene flow may be necessary for longer term persistence.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/eva.12489

You might also like
Never Miss Important Research

Researcher is an app designed by academics, for academics. Create a personalised feed in two minutes.
Choose from over 15,000 academics journals covering ten research areas then let Researcher deliver you papers tailored to your interests each day.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.