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  1. Complex statistical methods are continuously developed across the fields of ecology, evolution, and systematics (EES). These fields, however, lack standardized principles for evaluating methods, which has led to high variability in the rigor with which methods are tested, a lack of clarity regarding their limitations, and the potential for misapplication. In this review, we illustrate the common pitfalls of method evaluations in EES, the advantages of testing methods with simulated data, and best practices for method evaluations. We highlight the difference between method evaluation and validation and review how simulations, when appropriately designed, can refine the domain in which a method can be reliably applied. We also discuss the strengths and limitations of different evaluation metrics. The potential for misapplication of methods would be greatly reduced if funding agencies, reviewers, and journals required principled method evaluation. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, Volume 53 is November 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 2, 2023
  2. Across many species where inversions have been implicated in local adaptation, genomes often evolve to contain multiple, large inversions that arise early in divergence. Why this occurs has yet to be resolved. To address this gap, we built forward-time simulations in which inversions have flexible characteristics and can invade a metapopulation undergoing spatially divergent selection for a highly polygenic trait. In our simulations, inversions typically arose early in divergence, captured standing genetic variation upon mutation, and then accumulated many small-effect loci over time. Under special conditions, inversions could also arise late in adaptation and capture locally adapted alleles. Polygenic inversions behaved similarly to a single supergene of large effect and were detectable by genome scans. Our results show that characteristics of adaptive inversions found in empirical studies (e.g. multiple large, old inversions that are F ST outliers, sometimes overlapping with other inversions) are consistent with a highly polygenic architecture, and inversions do not need to contain any large-effect genes to play an important role in local adaptation. By combining a population and quantitative genetic framework, our results give a deeper understanding of the specific conditions needed for inversions to be involved in adaptation when the genetic architecture is polygenic. Thismore »article is part of the theme issue ‘Genomic architecture of supergenes: causes and evolutionary consequences’.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Supergenes are tightly linked sets of loci that are inherited together and control complex phenotypes. While classical supergenes—governing traits such as wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies or heterostyly in Primula —have been studied since the Modern Synthesis, we still understand very little about how they evolve and persist in nature. The genetic architecture of supergenes is a critical factor affecting their evolutionary fate, as it can change key parameters such as recombination rate and effective population size, potentially redirecting molecular evolution of the supergene in addition to the surrounding genomic region. To understand supergene evolution, we must link genomic architecture with evolutionary patterns and processes. This is now becoming possible with recent advances in sequencing technology and powerful forward computer simulations. The present theme issue brings together theoretical and empirical papers, as well as opinion and synthesis papers, which showcase the architectural diversity of supergenes and connect this to critical processes in supergene evolution, such as polymorphism maintenance and mutation accumulation. Here, we summarize those insights to highlight new ideas and methods that illuminate the path forward for the study of supergenes in nature. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Genomic architecture of supergenes: causes and evolutionary consequences’.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  4. Coulson, Tim (Ed.)
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  5. Complex life cycles, in which discrete life stages of the same organism differ in form or function and often occupy different ecological niches, are common in nature. Because stages share the same genome, selective effects on one stage may have cascading consequences through the entire life cycle. Theoretical and empirical studies have not yet generated clear predictions about how life cycle complexity will influence patterns of adaptation in response to rapidly changing environments or tested theoretical predictions for fitness trade-offs (or lack thereof) across life stages. We discuss complex life cycle evolution and outline three hypotheses—ontogenetic decoupling, antagonistic ontogenetic pleiotropy and synergistic ontogenetic pleiotropy—for how selection may operate on organisms with complex life cycles. We suggest a within-generation experimental design that promises significant insight into composite selection across life cycle stages. As part of this design, we conducted simulations to determine the power needed to detect selection across a life cycle using a population genetic framework. This analysis demonstrated that recently published studies reporting within-generation selection were underpowered to detect small allele frequency changes (approx. 0.1). The power analysis indicates challenging but attainable sampling requirements for many systems, though plants and marine invertebrates with high fecundity are excellent systems formore »exploring how organisms with complex life cycles may adapt to climate change.« less
  6. null (Ed.)
    There is a growing focus on the role of DNA methylation in the ability of marine invertebrates to rapidly respond to changing environmental factors and anthropogenic impacts. However, genome-wide DNA methylation studies in non-model organisms are currently hampered by limited understanding of methodological biases. Here we compare three methods for quantifying DNA methylation at single base-pair resolution — Whole Genome Bisulfite Sequencing (WGBS), Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS), and Methyl-CpG Binding Domain Bisulfite Sequencing (MBDBS) — using multiple individuals from two reef-building coral species with contrasting environmental sensitivity. All methods reveal substantially greater methylation in Montipora capitata (11.4%) than the more sensitive Pocillopora acuta (2.9%). The majority of CpG methylation in both species occurs in gene bodies and flanking regions. In both species, MBDBS has the greatest capacity for detecting CpGs in coding regions at our sequencing depth, however MBDBS may be influenced by intra-sample methylation heterogeneity. RRBS yields robust information for specific loci albeit without enrichment of any particular genome feature and with significantly reduced genome coverage. Relative genome size strongly influences the number and location of CpGs detected by each method when sequencing depth is limited, illuminating nuances in cross-species comparisons. As genome-wide methylation differences, supported by datamore »across bisulfite sequencing methods, may contribute to environmental sensitivity phenotypes in critical marine invertebrate taxa, these data provide a genomic resource for investigating the functional role of DNA methylation in environmental tolerance.« less