Modeling Effects of Environmental Change on Wolf Population Dynamics, Trait Evolution, and Life History

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1275-1278
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209441

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Environmental change has been observed to generate simultaneous responses in population dynamics, life history, gene frequencies, and morphology in a number of species. But how common are such eco-evolutionary responses to environmental change likely to be? Are they inevitable, or do they require a specific type of change? Can we accurately predict eco-evolutionary responses? We address these questions using theory and data from the study of Yellowstone wolves. We show that environmental change is expected to generate eco-evolutionary change, that changes in the average environment will affect wolves to a greater extent than changes in how variable it is, and that accurate prediction of the consequences of environmental change will probably prove elusive.

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