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  1. Populations can adapt to novel selection pressures through dramatic frequency changes in a few genes of large effect or subtle shifts in many genes of small effect. The latter (polygenic adaptation) is expected to be the primary mode of evolution for many life-history traits but tends to be more difficult to detect than changes in genes of large effect. Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) were subjected to intense fishing pressure over the twentieth century, leading to abundance crashes and a phenotypic shift toward earlier maturation across many populations. Here, we use spatially replicated temporal genomic data to test for a shared polygenic adaptive response to fishing using methods previously applied to evolve-and-resequence experiments. Cod populations on either side of the Atlantic show covariance in allele frequency change across the genome that are characteristic of recent polygenic adaptation. Using simulations, we demonstrate that the degree of covariance in allele frequency change observed in cod is unlikely to be explained by neutral processes or background selection. As human pressures on wild populations continue to increase, understanding and attributing modes of adaptation using methods similar to those demonstrated here will be important in identifying the capacity for adaptive responses and evolutionary rescue.

    This article is part of the theme issue ‘Detecting and attributing the causes of biodiversity change: needs, gaps and solutions’.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 17, 2024
  2. Synopsis

    Understanding recent population trends is critical to quantifying species vulnerability and implementing effective management strategies. To evaluate the accuracy of genomic methods for quantifying recent declines (beginning <120 generations ago), we simulated genomic data using forward-time methods (SLiM) coupled with coalescent simulations (msprime) under a number of demographic scenarios. We evaluated both site frequency spectrum (SFS)-based methods (momi2, Stairway Plot) and methods that employ linkage disequilibrium information (NeEstimator, GONE) with a range of sampling schemes (contemporary-only samples, sampling two time points, and serial sampling) and data types (RAD-like data and whole-genome sequencing). GONE and momi2 performed best overall, with >80% power to detect severe declines with large sample sizes. Two-sample and serial sampling schemes could accurately reconstruct changes in population size, and serial sampling was particularly valuable for making accurate inferences when genotyping errors or minor allele frequency cutoffs distort the SFS or under model mis-specification. However, sampling only contemporary individuals provided reliable inferences about contemporary size and size change using either site frequency or linkage-based methods, especially when large sample sizes or whole genomes from contemporary populations were available. These findings provide a guide for researchers designing genomics studies to evaluate recent demographic declines.

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  3. Abstract Adaptation within species to local environments is widespread in nature. Better understanding this local adaptation is critical to conserving biodiversity. However, conservation practices can rely on species’ trait averages or can broadly assume homogeneity across the range to inform management. Recent methodological advances for studying local adaptation provide the opportunity to fine-tune efforts for managing and conserving species. The implementation of these advances will allow us to better identify populations at greatest risk of decline because of climate change, as well as highlighting possible strategies for improving the likelihood of population persistence amid climate change. In the present article, we review recent advances in the study of local adaptation and highlight ways these tools can be applied in conservation efforts. Cutting-edge tools are available to help better identify and characterize local adaptation. Indeed, increased incorporation of local adaptation in management decisions may help meet the imminent demands of managing species amid a rapidly changing world. 
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  4. Abstract

    Understanding the evolutionary consequences of anthropogenic change is imperative for estimating long‐term species resilience. While contemporary genomic data can provide us with important insights into recent demographic histories, investigating past change using present genomic data alone has limitations. In comparison, temporal genomics studies, defined herein as those that incorporate time series genomic data, utilize museum collections and repeated field sampling to directly examine evolutionary change. As temporal genomics is applied to more systems, species and questions, best practices can be helpful guides to make the most efficient use of limited resources. Here, we conduct a systematic literature review to synthesize the effects of temporal genomics methodology on our ability to detect evolutionary changes. We focus on studies investigating recent change within the past 200 years, highlighting evolutionary processes that have occurred during the past two centuries of accelerated anthropogenic pressure. We first identify the most frequently studied taxa, systems, questions and drivers, before highlighting overlooked areas where further temporal genomic studies may be particularly enlightening. Then, we provide guidelines for future study and sample designs while identifying key considerations that may influence statistical and analytical power. Our aim is to provide recommendations to a broad array of researchers interested in using temporal genomics in their work.

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  5. Abstract

    Adaptation to environmental change requires that populations harbor the necessary genetic variation to respond to selection. However, dispersal‐limited species with fragmented populations and reduced genetic diversity may lack this variation and are at an increased risk of local extinction. In freshwater fish species, environmental change in the form of increased stream temperatures places many cold‐water species at‐risk. We present a study of rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) in which we evaluated the importance of genetic variation on adaptive potential and determined responses to extreme thermal stress. We compared fine‐scale patterns of morphological and thermal tolerance differentiation across eight sites, including a unique lake habitat. We also inferred contemporary population structure using genomic data and characterized the relationship between individual genetic diversity and stress tolerance. We found site‐specific variation in thermal tolerance that generally matched local conditions and morphological differences associated with lake‐stream divergence. We detected patterns of population structure on a highly local spatial scale that could not be explained by isolation by distance or stream connectivity. Finally, we showed that individual thermal tolerance was positively correlated with genetic variation, suggesting that sites with increased genetic diversity may be better at tolerating novel stress. Our results highlight the importance of considering intraspecific variation in understanding population vulnerability and stress response.

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