PerspectiveEcology

How to survive in a human-dominated world

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Science  03 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6439, pp. 433-434
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3713

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Summary

Humans are altering Earth's systems to such an extent that the geological period in which we are living has been dubbed the Anthropocene (1). Climate change, human land use, and the chemicals used in everyday living challenge biological species by creating new environments to which they must rapidly adapt or go extinct (1, 2). Can species evolve fast enough to survive? On page 455 of this issue, Oziolor et al. (3) show that the answer can be yes. The authors report that a fish species rapidly adapted to toxins in a highly polluted region of the Gulf of Mexico. They identify gene exchange between species by hybridization (introgression) as the mechanism enabling rapid adaptation and rescue of populations that might have otherwise gone extinct.