PerspectiveEvolution

The genomics of climate change

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Science  05 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6371, pp. 29-30
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar3920

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Summary

Human-induced climate change is causing rapidly changing global temperatures and extreme fluctuations in precipitation. These changes force organisms to adapt and evolve or face extinction. Understanding and predicting the evolutionary responses to climate change is critical for preserving biodiversity, but predictions are challenging because they involve interactions between adaptive plasticity (such as altered breeding times) and evolved responses (such as increased metabolism). On page 83 of this issue, Bay et al. (1) combine high-resolution genomic sequencing with population trends and global climate predictions to estimate the adaptive potential (that is, the genetic variation necessary for adaptation) of yellow warblers (see the photo) to climate change and predict future population declines. In doing so, they produce a powerful tool for estimating genomic vulnerability to climate change and locate candidate genes that are key for climate change adaptation.