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  1. Abstract

    Ecogeographic rules denote spatial patterns in phenotype and environment that may reflect local adaptation as well as a species’ capacity to adapt to change. To identify genes underlying Bergmann’s Rule, which posits that spatial correlations of body mass and temperature reflect natural selection and local adaptation in endotherms, we compare 79 genomes from nine song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) subspecies that vary ~300% in body mass (17 − 50 g). Comparing large- and smaller-bodied subspecies revealed 9 candidate genes in three genomic regions associated with body mass. Further comparisons to the five smallest subspecies endemic to California revealed eight SNPs within four of the candidate genes (GARNL3,RALGPS1,ANGPTL2, andCOL15A1) associated with body mass and varying as predicted by Bergmann’s Rule. Our results support the hypothesis that co-variation in environment, body mass and genotype reflect the influence of natural selection on local adaptation and a capacity for contemporary evolution in this diverse species.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Theory suggests that different taxa having colonized a similar, challenging environment will show parallel or lineage-specific adaptations to shared selection pressures, but empirical examples of parallel evolution in independent taxa are exceedingly rare. We employed comparative genomics to identify parallel and lineage-specific responses to selection within and among four species of North American sparrows that represent four independent, post-Pleistocene colonization events by an ancestral, upland subspecies and a derived salt marsh specialist. We identified multiple cases of parallel adaptation in these independent comparisons following salt marsh colonization, including selection of 12 candidate genes linked to osmoregulation. In addition to detecting shared genetic targets of selection across multiple comparisons, we found many novel, species-specific signatures of selection, including evidence of selection of loci associated with both physiological and behavioral mechanisms of osmoregulation. Demographic reconstructions of all four species highlighted their recent divergence and small effective population sizes, as expected given their rapid radiation into saline environments. Our results highlight the interplay of both shared and lineage-specific selection pressures in the colonization of a biotically and abiotically challenging habitat and confirm theoretical expectations that steep environmental clines can drive repeated and rapid evolutionary diversification in birds.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Studies of the phenological responses of animals to climate change typically emphasize the initiation of breeding although climatic effects on the cessation and length of the breeding period may be as or more influential of fitness. We quantified links between climate, the cessation and length of the breeding period, and individual survival and reproduction using a 34‐year study of a resident song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) population subject to dramatic variation in climate. We show that the cessation and length of the breeding period varied strongly across years, and predicted female annual fecundity but not survival. Breeding period length was more influential of fecundity than initiation or cessation of breeding alone. Warmer annual temperature and drier winters and summers predicted an earlier cessation of breeding. Population density, the date breeding was initiated, a female's history of breeding success, and the number of breeding attempts initiated previously also predicted the cessation of breeding annually, indicating that climatic, population, and individual factors may interact to affect breeding phenology. Linking climate projections to our model results suggests that females will both initiate and cease breeding earlier in the future; this will have opposite effects on individual reproductive rate because breeding earlier is expected to increase fecundity, whereas ceasing breeding earlier should reduce it. Identifying factors affecting the cessation and length of the breeding period in multiparous species may be essential to predicting individual fitness and population demography. Given a rich history of studies on the initiation of breeding in free‐living species, re‐visiting those data to estimate climatic effects on the cessation and length of breeding should improve our ability to predict the impacts of climate change on multiparous species.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Life‐history theory postulates that physiological traits, such as energy metabolism, can be understood in terms of allocation trade‐offs between self‐maintenance and reproduction over an organism's life span, and data show that metabolic intensity and survival vary inversely with latitude, with tropical birds exhibiting a “slow” pace of life relative to temperature species. However, tropical regions harbour strong environmental gradients of their own, and it remains to be shown whether similar life‐history trade‐offs between metabolism and longevity are reflected among tropical birds of the same latitude.

    We estimated apparent annual survival in 37 species of tropical passerine birds along an elevational gradient (400–3,000 m) in Peru to test whether variation in survival was influenced by basal metabolic rate (BMR; estimated at the same sites), elevation or both factors. We used path analysis to test our prediction that survival would decline as BMR increased, while accounting for the potential direct effects of elevation on survival due to differences in predation pressure or environmental conditions as well as potential indirect effects of elevation on BMR via temperature and the costs of thermoregulation.

    Higher BMR in tropical passerine birds predicted lower apparent survival, regardless of the elevation at which species occurred. In addition, elevation had a direct negative effect on apparent survival, perhaps due to harsher abiotic conditions, low site fidelity or both at high elevations.

    We provide evidence of a link between metabolic rate and longevity previously undescribed in populations of free‐living birds. Our results illustrate that tropical montane species may be characterized by a unique suite of traits in their pace of life, in which BMR does not differ from lowland birds, but survival does.

    Aplain language summaryis available for this article.

     
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