Predicting responses to contemporary environmental change using evolutionary response architectures

Rachael A. Bay, Noah Rose, Rowan Barrett, Louis Bernatchez, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Jesse R. Lasky, Rachel B. Brem, Stephen R. Palumbi, Peter Ralph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Rapid environmental change currently presents a major threat to global biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and understanding impacts on individual populations is critical to creating reliable predictions and mitigation plans. One emerging tool for this goal is high-throughput sequencing technology, which can now be used to scan the genome for signs of environmental selection in any species and any system. This explosion of data provides a powerful new window into the molecular mechanisms of adaptation, and although there has been some success in using genomic data to predict responses to selection in fields such as agriculture, thus far genomic data are rarely integrated into predictive frameworks of future adaptation in natural populations. Here, we review both theoretical and empirical studies of adaptation to rapid environmental change, focusing on areas where genomic data are poised to contribute to our ability to estimate species and population persistence and adaptation. We advocate for the need to study and model evolutionary response architectures, which integrate spatial information, fitness estimates, and plasticity with genetic architecture. Understanding how these factors contribute to adaptive responses is essential in efforts to predict the responses of species and ecosystems to future environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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