Document Detail

Evolutionary rescue and the limits of adaptation.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23209162     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Populations subject to severe stress may be rescued by natural selection, but its operation is restricted by ecological and genetic constraints. The cost of natural selection expresses the limited capacity of a population to sustain the load of mortality or sterility required for effective selection. Genostasis expresses the lack of variation that prevents many populations from adapting to stress. While the role of relative fitness in adaptation is well understood, evolutionary rescue emphasizes the need to recognize explicitly the importance of absolute fitness. Permanent adaptation requires a range of genetic variation in absolute fitness that is broad enough to provide a few extreme types capable of sustained growth under a stress that would cause extinction if they were not present. This principle implies that population size is an important determinant of rescue. The overall number of individuals exposed to selection will be greater when the population declines gradually under a constant stress, or is progressively challenged by gradually increasing stress. In gradually deteriorating environments, survival at lethal stress may be procured by prior adaptation to sublethal stress through genetic correlation. Neither the standing genetic variation of small populations nor the mutation supply of large populations, however, may be sufficient to provide evolutionary rescue for most populations.
Graham Bell
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences     Volume:  368     ISSN:  1471-2970     ISO Abbreviation:  Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-12-04     Completed Date:  2013-05-07     Revised Date:  2014-01-23    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7503623     Medline TA:  Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  20120080     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Biological*
Biological Evolution*
Extinction, Biological
Gene Frequency
Genetic Fitness
Genetic Variation
Population Density
Population Dynamics
Selection, Genetic*
Stress, Physiological*

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