Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The dynamics of phenotypic change and the shrinking sheep of St. Kilda.

Abstract

Environmental change, including climate change, can cause rapid phenotypic change via both ecological and evolutionary processes. Because ecological and evolutionary dynamics are intimately linked, a major challenge is to identify their relative roles. We exactly decomposed the change in mean body weight in a free-living population of Soay sheep into all the processes that contribute to change. Ecological processes contribute most, with selection - the underpinning of adaptive evolution - explaining little of the observed phenotypic trend. Our results enable us to explain why selection has so little effect even though weight is heritable, and why environmental change has caused a decline in the body size of Soay sheep.