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Data from: Environmental stress does not increase the mean strength of selection

Cite this dataset

Arbuthnott, Devin; Whitlock, Michael C. (2018). Data from: Environmental stress does not increase the mean strength of selection [Dataset]. Dryad.


A common intuition among evolutionary biologists and ecologists is that environmental stress will increase the strength of selection against deleterious alleles and among alternate genotypes. However, the strength of selection is determined by the relative fitness differences among genotypes, and there is no theoretical reason why these differences should be exaggerated as mean fitness decreases. We update a recent review of the empirical results pertaining to environmental stress and the strength of selection and find that there is no overall trend towards increased selection under stress. The majority of past studies measure the strength of selection by quantifying the decrease in fitness imposed by single or multiple mutations in different environments. However, selection rarely acts on one locus independently, and the strength of selection will be determined by variation across the whole genome. We used 20 inbred lines of Drosophila melanogaster to make repeated fitness measurements of the same genotypes in four different environments. This framework allowed us to determine the variation in fitness attributable to genotype across stressful environments and to calculate the opportunity for selection among these genotypes in each stress. While we found significant decreases in mean fitness in our stressful environments, we did not find any significant differences in the strength of selection among any of the four measured environments. Therefore, in agreement with our updated review, we find no evidence for the oft-cited verbal model that stress increases the strength of selection.

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