Assortative mating can help adaptation of flowering time to a changing climate: insights from a polygenic model
Godineau, Claire; Ronce, Ophélie; Devaux, Céline (2021), Assortative mating can help adaptation of flowering time to a changing climate: insights from a polygenic model, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.zs7h44j85
Several empirical studies report fast evolutionary changes in flowering time in response to contemporary climate change. Flowering time is a polygenic trait under assortative mating, since flowering time of mates must overlap. Here we test whether assortative mating, compared to random mating, can help better track a changing climate. For each mating pattern, our individual-based model simulates a population evolving in a climate characterized by stabilizing selection around an optimal flowering time, which can change directionally and/or fluctuate. We also derive new analytical predictions from a quantitative genetics model for the expected genetic variance at equilibrium, and its components, the lag of the population to the optimum, and the population mean fitness. We compare these predictions between assortative and random mating, and to our simulation results. Assortative mating, compared to random mating, has antagonistic effects on genetic variance: it generates positive associations among similar allelic effects, which inflates the genetic variance, but it decreases genetic polymorphism, which depresses the genetic variance. In a stationary environment with substantial stabilizing selection, assortative mating affects little the genetic variance compared to random mating. In a changing climate, assortative mating however increases genetic variance compared to random mating, which diminishes the lag of the population to the optimum, and in most scenarios translates into a fitness advantage relative to random mating. The magnitude of this fitness advantage depends on the extent to which genetic variance limits adaptation, being larger for faster environmental changes and weaker stabilizing selection.
Please contact the corresponding author for the notebook (.nb) simulating the evolution of populations under assortative and random mating.