Browsing by Subject "DARWINS FINCHES"

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-3 of 3
  • Saether, Bernt-Erik; Grotan, Vidar; Engen, Steinar; Coulson, Tim; Grant, Peter R.; Visser, Marcel E.; Brommer, Jon E.; Grant, B. Rosemary; Gustafsson, Lars; Hatchwell, Ben J.; Jerstad, Kurt; Karell, Patrik; Pietiäinen, Hannu; Roulin, Alexandre; Rostad, Ole W.; Weimerskirch, Henri (2016)
    There is large interspecific variation in the magnitude of population fluctuations, even among closely related species. The factors generating this variation are not well understood, primarily because of the challenges of separating the relative impact of variation in population size from fluctuations in the environment. Here, we show using demographic data from 13 bird populations that magnitudes of fluctuations in population size are mainly driven by stochastic fluctuations in the environment. Regulation towards an equilibrium population size occurs through density-dependent mortality. At small population sizes, population dynamics are primarily driven by environment-driven variation in recruitment, whereas close to the carrying capacity K, variation in population growth is more strongly influenced by density-dependent mortality of both juveniles and adults. Our results provide evidence for the hypothesis proposed by Lack that population fluctuations in birds arise from temporal variation in the difference between density-independent recruitment and density-dependent mortality during the non-breeding season.
  • Yusuf, Leeban; Heatley, Matthew C.; Palmer, Joseph P. G.; Barton, Henry J.; Cooney, Christopher R.; Gossmann, Toni (2020)
    Recent progress has been made in identifying genomic regions implicated in trait evolution on a microevolutionary scale in many species, but whether these are relevant over macroevolutionary time remains unclear. Here, we directly address this fundamental question using bird beak shape, a key evolutionary innovation linked to patterns of resource use, divergence, and speciation, as a model trait. We integrate class-wide geometric-morphometric analyses with evolutionary sequence analyses of 10,322 protein-coding genes as well as 229,001 genomic regions spanning 72 species. We identify 1434 protein-coding genes and 39,806 noncoding regions for which molecular rates were significantly related to rates of bill shape evolution. We show that homologs of the identified protein-coding genes as well as genes in close proximity to the identified noncoding regions are involved in craniofacial embryo development in mammals. They are associated with embryonic stem cell pathways, including BMP and Wnt signaling, both of which have repeatedly been implicated in the morphological development of avian beaks. This suggests that identifying genotype-phenotype association on a genome-wide scale over macroevolutionary time is feasible. Although the coding and noncoding gene sets are associated with similar pathways, the actual genes are highly distinct, with significantly reduced overlap between them and bill-related phenotype associations specific to noncoding loci. Evidence for signatures of recent diversifying selection on our identified noncoding loci in Darwin finch populations further suggests that regulatory rather than coding changes are major drivers of morphological diversification over macroevolutionary times.
  • Fountain, Toby Edward Soames; Nieminen, Marko Juhani; Siren, Jukka Pekka; Wong, Swee Chong; Lehtonen, Rainer Juhani; Hanski, Ilkka Aulis (2016)
    Describing the evolutionary dynamics of now extinct populations is challenging, as their genetic composition before extinction is generally unknown. The Glanville fritillary butterfly has a large extant metapopulation in the Åland Islands in Finland, but declined to extinction in the nearby fragmented southwestern (SW) Finnish archipelago in the 20th century. We genotyped museum samples for 222 SNPs across the genome, including SNPs from candidate genes and neutral regions. SW Finnish populations had significantly reduced genetic diversity before extinction, and their allele frequencies gradually diverged from those in contemporary Åland populations over 80 y. We identified 15 outlier loci among candidate SNPs, mostly related to flight, in which allele frequencies have changed more than the neutral expectation. At outlier loci, allele frequencies in SW Finland shifted in the same direction as newly established populations deviated from old local populations in contemporary Åland. Moreover, outlier allele frequencies in SW Finland resemble those in fragmented landscapes as opposed to continuous landscapes in the Baltic region. These results indicate selection for genotypes associated with good colonization capacity in the highly fragmented landscape before the extinction of the populations. Evolutionary response to habitat fragmentation may have enhanced the viability of the populations, but it did not save the species from regional extinction in the face of severe habitat loss and fragmentation. These results highlight a potentially common situation in changing environments: evolutionary changes are not strong enough to fully compensate for the direct adverse effects of environmental change and thereby rescue populations from extinction.