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Title: Evolutionary rescue via transgenerational plasticity: Evidence and implications for conservation

When a population experiences severe stress from a changing environment, evolution by natural selection can prevent its extinction, a process dubbed “evolutionary rescue.” However, evolution may be unable to track the sort ofrapidenvironmental change being experienced by many modern‐day populations. A potential solution is for organisms to respond to environmental change through phenotypic plasticity, which can buffer populations against change and thereby buy time for evolutionary rescue. In this review, we examine whether this process extends to situations in which the environmentally induced response is passed to offspring. As we describe, theoretical and empirical studies suggest that such “transgenerational plasticity” can increase population persistence. We discuss the implications of this process for conservation biology, outline potential limitations, and describe some applications. Generally, transgenerational plasticity may be effective at buying time for evolutionary rescue to occur.

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Journal Name:
Evolution & Development
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 292-307
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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