Rapid climate change and the rate of adaptation: insight from experimental quantitative genetics


Author for correspondence:
Ruth G. Shaw
Tel: +1 612 624 7206
Email: shawx016@umn.edu



II.Will migration be enough?753
III.Can adaptation proceed fast enough?754
IV.Fitness links demographic and evolutionary processes755
V.Experimental studies: what do they tell us and how can we improve them?756
VI.Predicting evolutionary change based on genetic variation and natural selection757
VII.The chronosequence approach758
VIII.Resurrection of ancestral propagules759
IX.The mean and variance in fitness, a link between genetics and demography760


Evolution proceeds unceasingly in all biological populations. It is clear that climate-driven evolution has molded plants in deep time and within extant populations. However, it is less certain whether adaptive evolution can proceed sufficiently rapidly to maintain the fitness and demographic stability of populations subjected to exceptionally rapid contemporary climate change. Here, we consider this question, drawing on current evidence on the rate of plant range shifts and the potential for an adaptive evolutionary response. We emphasize advances in understanding based on theoretical studies that model interacting evolutionary processes, and we provide an overview of quantitative genetic approaches that can parameterize these models to provide more meaningful predictions of the dynamic interplay between genetics, demography and evolution. We outline further research that can clarify both the adaptive potential of plant populations as climate continues to change and the role played by ongoing adaptation in their persistence.