Issue 8.6: How to Measure Natural Selection

Issue 8.6 is now online!

The April issue of Methods, which includes our latest Special Feature – ‘How to Measure Natural Selection – is now online!

Understanding how and why some individuals survive and reproduce better than others, the traits that allow them to do so, the genetic basis of those traits, and the signatures of past and present selection in patterns of variation in the genome remain at the top of the research agenda for evolutionary biology. This Special Feature – Guest Edited by Jeff Conner, John Stinchcombe and Joanna Kelley – draws together a collection of seven papers that highlight new methodological and conceptual approaches to meeting this agenda.

Three of the ‘How to Measure Natural Selection’ papers – Franklin and Morrissey, Thomson and Hadfield, and Hadfield and Thomson – clarify unresolved aspects of the literature in meaningful and important ways. Following on from this Hermisson and Pennings; Lotterhos et al.; and Villanueva‐Cañas et al. tackle the genomic results of evolution by natural selection: namely, how we can detect natural selection from genomic data? Finally, Wadgymar et al. address the issue of how much we know about the underlying loci or agents of selection.

To use the Editors’ own words, the articles in this issue “deal with how we can detect selection in a way that can be used to predict evolutionary responses, how selection affects the genome, and how selection and genetics underlie adaptive differentiation.”

All of the articles in the ‘How to Measure Natural Selection‘ Special Feature will be freely available for a limited time.

This month’s issue is completed by four additional papers. These articles cover Image Analysis, Occupancy Modelling, Phylogenetics and Meta-Analysis.

The month’s cover image of this special issue was taken along West Maroon Pass near Gothic, Colorado, home of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). Instituted in 1928, thousands of students and scientists have conducted research in this area, making the ecosystems around RMBL some of the most intensively studied in the world. Long-term climate monitoring, natural history data sets, and field experiments have established RMBL as an internationally renowned centre for studies of climate change and local adaptation.
In the ‘How to Measure Natural Selection’ Special Feature, Wadgymar et al. advocate for studies to move beyond establishing patterns of local adaptation to uncovering the processes that generate it. A literature survey revealed the need for studies to examine the genetic basis of local adaptation in a variety of natural systems. Furthermore, studies are needed to investigate interactions among the multitude of environmental factors often involved in the generation and maintenance of local adaptation. The authors demonstrate that manipulative field experiments combined with genetic, genomic, and molecular techniques hold the most promise for propelling us forward in our understanding of local adaptation. From an applied perspective, this knowledge can be used to optimize crops, conserve endangered species, and predict how anthropogentic forces will affect natural populations.

To keep up to date with Methods newest content, have a look at our Accepted Articles and Early View articles, which will be included in forthcoming issues.

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