Although many selection estimates have been published, the environmental factors that cause selection to vary in space and time have rarely been identified. One way to identify these factors is by experimentally manipulating the environment and measuring selection in each treatment. We compiled and analyzed selection estimates from experimental studies. First, we tested whether the effect of manipulating the environment on selection gradients depends on taxon, trait type, or fitness component. We found that the effect of manipulating the environment was larger when selection was measured on life-history traits or via survival. Second, we tested two predictions about the environmental factors that cause variation in selection. We found support for the prediction that variation in selection is more likely to be caused by environmental factors that have a large effect on mean fitness but not for the prediction that variation is more likely to be caused by biotic factors. Third, we compared selection gradients from experimental and observational studies. We found that selection varied more among treatments in experimental studies than among spatial and temporal replicates in observational studies, suggesting that experimental studies can detect relationships between environmental factors and selection that would not be apparent in observational studies.
Keywords: causes of selection; directional selection; fitness; natural selection; selection gradient.