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Impacts of environmental heterogeneity on natural selection in a wild bird population


Houle, Carolyne; Pelletier, Fanie; Bélisle, Marc; Garant, Dany (2020), Impacts of environmental heterogeneity on natural selection in a wild bird population, Dryad, Dataset,


Natural selection has been studied for several decades, resulting in the computation of thousands of selection estimates. Although the importance of environmental conditions on selection has often been suggested, published estimates rarely take into account the effects of environmental heterogeneity on selection patterns. Here, we estimated linear and non‐linear viability selection gradients on morphological traits of 12 days‐old nestlings in a wild population of tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) across a large‐scale heterogeneous study system in southern Québec, Canada. We assessed the environmental drivers of nestling survival and evaluated their effects on strength and direction of selection gradients. Separate analyses of environmental variables showed that high temperatures and heavy rainfall caused stronger positive linear selection on morphological traits. Weaker linear selection was also measured in more extensively cultivated areas. Both strength and shape of non‐linear quadratic and correlational components of selection were modified by environmental variables. Considering all environmental variables revealed that precipitation since hatching affected patterns of linear selection on traits, while temperatures since hatching shaped nonlinear selection patterns. Our study underlines the importance of quantifying linear and non‐linear natural selection under various environmental conditions and how the evolutionary response of traits may be affected by ongoing human‐induced environmental changes.


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: 2,613,927,312,355,490

Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, Award: 167001

Canada Research Chairs, Award: CRC 229221