The spatial patterns of directional phenotypic selection

Adam M. Siepielski, Kiyoko M. Gotanda, Michael B. Morrissey, Sarah E. Diamond, Joseph DiBattista, Stephanie Marie Carlson

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165 Scopus citations


Local adaptation, adaptive population divergence and speciation are often expected to result from populations evolving in response to spatial variation in selection. Yet, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the major features that characterise the spatial patterns of selection, namely the extent of variation among populations in the strength and direction of selection. Here, we analyse a data set of spatially replicated studies of directional phenotypic selection from natural populations. The data set includes 60 studies, consisting of 3937 estimates of selection across an average of five populations. We performed meta-analyses to explore features characterising spatial variation in directional selection. We found that selection tends to vary mainly in strength and less in direction among populations. Although differences in the direction of selection occur among populations they do so where selection is often weakest, which may limit the potential for ongoing adaptive population divergence. Overall, we also found that spatial variation in selection appears comparable to temporal (annual) variation in selection within populations; however, several deficiencies in available data currently complicate this comparison. We discuss future research needs to further advance our understanding of spatial variation in selection. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1382-1392
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 12 2013

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank C. Benkman and M. McPeek for enlightening discussion on the nature of selection as well as comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We also appreciate the insightful and helpful comments by three anonymous reviewers that improved the work presented here. AMS was supported by NSF (DEB-1255318). KMG was funded by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship from NSERC and a doctoral scholarship from FQRNT. SMC was supported in part by NSF (DBI-0630626).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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