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  1. 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.

  2. Obtaining dispersal estimates for a species is key to understanding local adaptation and population dynamics and to implementing conservation actions. Genetic isolation-by-distance (IBD) patterns can be used for estimating dispersal, and these patterns are especially useful for marine species in which few other methods are available. In this study, we genotyped coral reef fish (Amphiprion biaculeatus) at 16 microsatellite loci across eight sites across 210 km in the central Philippines to generate fine-scale estimates of dispersal. All sites except for one followed IBD patterns. Using IBD theory, we estimated a larval dispersal kernel spread of 8.9 km (95% confidence interval of 2.3–18.4 km). Genetic distance to the remaining site correlated strongly with the inverse probability of larval dispersal from an oceanographic model. Ocean currents were a better explanation for genetic distance at large spatial extents (sites greater than 150 km apart), while geographic distance remained the best explanation for spatial extents less than 150 km. Our study demonstrates the utility of combining IBD patterns with oceanographic simulations to understand connectivity in marine environments and to guide marine conservation strategies.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 14, 2023
  3. Adaptive evolution is not just the stuff of geological history books—it is an ongoing process across ecosystems and can occur on a year-to-year time scale. However, in a world rapidly changing as the result of human activity, it can be challenging to differentiate which changes result from evolution rather than other mechanisms ( 1 ). On page 420 of this issue, Czorlich et al. ( 2 ) reveal a fascinating example that suggests that commercial fishing drove rapid evolutionary change in an Atlantic salmon population over the past 40 years. Their findings are surprising in two ways—that fishing for salmon drove evolution in the opposite direction from what one would typically expect, and that salmon evolution also was affected by fishing for other species in the ecosystem.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 22, 2023
  4. Species ranges are shifting in response to climate change, but most predictions disregard food–web interactions and, in particular, if and how such interactions change through time. Predator–prey interactions could speed up species range shifts through enemy release or create lags through biotic resistance. Here, we developed a spatially explicit model of interacting species, each with a thermal niche and embedded in a size-structured food–web across a temperature gradient that was then exposed to warming. We also created counterfactual single species models to contrast and highlight the effect of trophic interactions on range shifts. We found that dynamic trophic interactions hampered species range shifts across 450 simulated food–webs with up to 200 species each over 200 years of warming. All species experiencing dynamic trophic interactions shifted more slowly than single-species models would predict. In addition, the trailing edges of larger bodied species ranges shifted especially slowly because of ecological subsidies from small shifting prey. Trophic interactions also reduced the numbers of locally novel species, novel interactions and productive species, thus maintaining historical community compositions for longer. Current forecasts ignoring dynamic food–web interactions and allometry may overestimate species' tendency to track climate change.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 13, 2023
  5. Understanding how evolutionary forces interact to drive patterns of selection and distribute genetic variation across a species' range is of great interest in ecology and evolution, especially in an era of global change. While theory predicts how and when populations at range margins are likely to undergo local adaptation, empirical evidence testing these models remains sparse. Here, we address this knowledge gap by investigating the relationship between selection, gene flow and genetic drift in the yellowtail clownfish, Amphiprion clarkii, from the core to the northern periphery of the species range. Analyses reveal low genetic diversity at the range edge, gene flow from the core to the edge and genomic signatures of local adaptation at 56 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 candidate genes, most of which are significantly correlated with minimum annual sea surface temperature. Several of these candidate genes play a role in functions that are upregulated during cold stress, including protein turnover, metabolism and translation. Our results illustrate how spatially divergent selection spanning the range core to the periphery can occur despite the potential for strong genetic drift at the range edge and moderate gene flow from the core populations.
  6. Marshall, Dustin (Ed.)
  7. null (Ed.)
    The mode and extent of rapid evolution and genomic change in response to human harvesting are key conservation issues. Although experiments and models have shown a high potential for both genetic and phenotypic change in response to fishing, empirical examples of genetic responses in wild populations are rare. Here, we compare whole-genome sequence data of Atlantic cod ( Gadus morhua ) that were collected before (early 20th century) and after (early 21st century) periods of intensive exploitation and rapid decline in the age of maturation from two geographically distinct populations in Newfoundland, Canada, and the northeast Arctic, Norway. Our temporal, genome-wide analyses of 346,290 loci show no substantial loss of genetic diversity and high effective population sizes. Moreover, we do not find distinct signals of strong selective sweeps anywhere in the genome, although we cannot rule out the possibility of highly polygenic evolution. Our observations suggest that phenotypic change in these populations is not constrained by irreversible loss of genomic variation and thus imply that former traits could be reestablished with demographic recovery.
  8. Interactions among selection, gene flow, and drift affect the trajectory of adaptive evolution. In natural populations, the direction and magnitude of these processes can be variable across different spatial, temporal, or ontogenetic scales. Consequently, variability in evolutionary processes affects the predictability or stochasticity of microevolutionary outcomes. We studied an intertidal fish, Bathygobius cocosensis (Bleeker, 1854), to understand how space, time, and life stage structure genetic and phenotypic variation in a species with potentially extensive dispersal and a complex life cycle (larval dispersal preceding benthic recruitment). We sampled juvenile and adult life stages, at three sites, over three years. Genome-wide SNPs uncovered a pattern of chaotic genetic patchiness, that is, weak-but-significant patchy spatial genetic structure that was variable through time and between life stages. Outlier locus analyses suggested that targets of spatially divergent selection were mostly temporally variable, though a significant number of spatial outlier loci were shared between life stages. Head shape, a putatively ecologically responsive (adaptive) phenotype in B. cocosensis also exhibited high temporal variability within sites. However, consistent spatial relationships between sites indicated that environmental similarities among sites may generate predictable phenotype distributions across space. Our study highlights the complex microevolutionary dynamics of marine systems, where consideration ofmore »multiple ecological dimensions can reveal both predictable and stochastic patterns in the distributions of genetic and phenotypic variation. Such considerations probably apply to species that possess short, complex life cycles, have large dispersal potential and fecundities, and that inhabit heterogeneous environments.« less