How Climate Change is Impacting Natural Selection

August 3, 2017
Green Anole Lizard by Martin de Lusenet_Flikr

A new study in Science, led by Shane Campbell-Stanton (Ph.D. '15), with Jonathan Losos and Scott Edwards, offers a rare view of natural selection in the anole lizard due to extreme weather events. As a graduate student, Campbell-Stanton collected DNA in 2013 from lizards in Texas and Oklahoma. Following an unusually harsh winter in 2014, he returned to the field sites to collect new DNA samples. With the before and after samples, Campbell-Staton and his advisors, Losos and Edwards, were able to track natural selection at both the level of the whole organism and the level of gene sequence and expression in the lizards that were forced to face natural selection and quickly evolve a tolerance to cold. The study offers one of the few insights into the effect of climate change and extreme weather events on natural populations. Media: Harvard Magazine, Phys.org

Image of Green Anole Lizard courtesy Martin de Lusenet on Flickr