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Title: Immigration delays but does not prevent adaptation following environmental change: experimental evidence

In today’s rapidly changing world, it is critical to examine how animal populations will respond to severe environmental change. Following events such as pollution or deforestation that cause populations to decline, extinction will occur unless populations can adapt in response to natural selection, a process called evolutionary rescue. Theory predicts that immigration can delay extinction and provide novel genetic material that can prevent inbreeding depression and facilitate adaptation. However, when potential source populations have not experienced the new environment before (i.e., are naive), immigration can counteract selection and constrain adaptation. This study evaluated the effects of immigration of naive individuals on evolutionary rescue using the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, as a model system. Small populations were exposed to a challenging environment, and 3 immigration rates (0, 1, or 5 migrants per generation) were implemented with migrants from a benign environment. Following an initial decline in population size across all treatments, populations receiving no immigration gained a higher growth rate one generation earlier than those with immigration, illustrating the constraining effects of immigration on adaptation. After 7 generations, a reciprocal transplant experiment found evidence for adaptation regardless of immigration rate. Thus, while the immigration of naive individuals briefly delayed adaptation, it did not increase extinction risk or prevent adaptation following environmental change.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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