Road to evolution? Local adaptation to road adjacency in an amphibian (Ambystoma maculatum)

  • Brady S
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The network of roads on the landscape is vast, and contributes a suite of negative ecological effects on adjacent habitats, ranging from fragmentation to contamination by runoff. In addition to the immediate consequences faced by biota living in roaded landscapes, road effects may further function as novel agents of selection, setting the stage for contemporary evolutionary changes in local populations. Though the ecological consequences of roads are well described, evolutionary outcomes remain largely unevaluated. To address these potential responses in tandem, I conducted a reciprocal transplant experiment on early life history stages of a pool-breeding salamander. My data show that despite a strong, negative effect of roadside pools on salamander performance, populations adjacent to roads are locally adapted. This suggests that the response of species to human-altered environments varies across local populations, and that adaptive processes may mediate this response.

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