Heritable variation and evolution under favourable and unfavourable conditions

Trends Ecol Evol. 1999 Mar;14(3):96-101. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(99)01595-5.


Genetic variability in quantitative traits can change as a direct response to the environmental conditions in which they are expressed. Consequently, similar selection in different environments might not be equally effective in leading to adaptation. Several hypotheses, including recent ones that focus on the historical impact of selection on populations, predict that the expression of genetic variation will increase in unfavourable conditions. However, other hypotheses lead to the opposite prediction. Although a consensus is unlikely, recent Drosophila and bird studies suggest consistent trends for morphological traits under particular conditions.