The historical context of contemporary climatic adaptation: A case study in the climatically dynamic and environmentally complex southwestern United States

Ecography
By:  and 

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Abstract

The process of adaptation can be highly dependent upon historical and contemporary factors, especially in environmentally and topographically complex regions affected by Pleistocene glaciations. Here, we investigate Hilaria jamesii (Poaceae), a dryland C4 graminoid, to test how patterns of adaptive genetic variation are linked to its glacial and post‐glacial history. We show that the species persisted in a single, southern refugium during the last glacial period and subsequently migrated throughout its current distribution concurrent with post‐glacial warming. The species’ putative adaptive genetic variation correlates with climatic gradients (e.g. monsoon precipitation and mean diurnal temperature range) that covary with the species’ probable route of demographic expansion. The short timescale and multiple climatic dimensions of adaptation imply that natural selection acted primarily upon standing genetic variation. These findings suggest that restoration and conservation practices should prioritize the maintenance of standing genetic variation to ensure that species have the capacity to respond to future environmental changes.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The historical context of contemporary climatic adaptation: A case study in the climatically dynamic and environmentally complex southwestern United States
Series title Ecography
DOI 10.1111/ecog.04840
Volume 43
Issue 5
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 735
Last page 746
Country United States
State Arizona, California Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
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