Comparing the Rates of Adaptive Change in Species Across Biogeographic Gradients

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Bourrier-Vince, Ava
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The process of adaptive evolution allows a species to persist with specific traits tailored to their environment. The rate at which a population adapts can change based on the varying environmental abiotic and biotic factors of their location. Environmental characteristics such as the amount of available energy, elevation, temperature and degree of human disturbance thus affect the rates of adaptive evolution across biogeographic gradients. In this study, I used data on adaptive rates for terrestrial species and aimed to determine if the rates of adaptive evolution showed patterns related to spatial biogeographic patterns and environmental factors such as elevation, evapotranspiration, precipitation and temperature. Additionally, I tested whether the rates of adaption changed based on these specific environmental factors and a human density. The results of my data analysis detected that the rates of adaptation showed good variation in relation to spatial scale patterning but no significant correlation patterns between the tested environmental variables and the rates of adaptive evolution were detected. This result did not support my hypothesis that the rates of adaptive change would vary through space with environmental gradients. Many potential factors may have caused this inconclusive result. Further research into this topic would be useful to understand and predict the adaptive evolution of species’ in varying environmental gradients. I propose that studies on this data should aim to utilize more of the available samples within this public dataset such as the aquatic species. Additionally, further research may benefit from narrowing the study size based on location or taxa for significant relationships to be accurately detected.
Adaptive Change, Biogeographic Gradients, Evolution