“Spatial selection and local adaptation jointly shape life-history evolution during range expansion”

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Katrien H. P. Van Petegem, Jeroen Boeye, Robby Stoks, and Dries Bonte

Spatial selection and local adaptation together thrust life-history evolution in a poleward-expanding arthropod

Two female two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) and one egg.
(Photo credit: Gilles San Martin, UCL, Belgium; CC BY-SA 2.0)


In the context of climate change and species invasions, range shifts increasingly gain attention because the rates at which they occur in the Anthropocene induce rapid changes in biological assemblages. During range shifts, species experience multiple selection pressures. For poleward expansions in particular, it is difficult to interpret observed evolutionary dynamics because of the joint action of evolutionary processes related to spatial selection and to adaptation towards local climatic conditions. To disentangle the effects of these two processes, we integrated stochastic modeling and data from a common garden experiment, using the spider mite Tetranychus urticae as a model species. By linking the empirical data with those derived form a highly parameterized individual-based model, we infer that both spatial selection and local adaptation contributed to the observed latitudinal life-history divergence. Spatial selection best described variation in dispersal behavior, while variation in development was best explained by adaptation to the local climate. Divergence in life-history traits in species shifting poleward could consequently be jointly determined by contemporary evolutionary dynamics resulting from adaptation to the environmental gradient and from spatial selection. The integration of modeling with common garden experiments provides a powerful tool to study the contribution of these evolutionary processes on life-history evolution during range expansion. Read the Article