Recent natural selection causes adaptive evolution of an avian polygenic trait

Mirte Bosse, Lewis G. Spurgin, Veronika N. Laine, Ella F. Cole, Josh A. Firth, Phillip Gienapp, Andrew G. Gosler, Keith McMahon, Jocelyn Poissant, Irene Verhagen, Martien A.M. Groenen, Kees van Oers, Ben C. Sheldon, Marcel E. Visser, Jon Slate*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


We used extensive data froma long-term study of great tits (Parusmajor) in theUnitedKingdom and Netherlands to better understand how genetic signatures of selection translate into variation in fitness and phenotypes.We found that genomic regions under differential selection contained candidate genes for bill morphology and used genetic architecture analyses to confirmthat these genes, especially the collagen gene COL4A5, explained variation in bill length. COL4A5 variation was associated with reproductive success, which, combined with spatiotemporal patterns of bill length, suggested ongoing selection for longer bills in the United Kingdom. Last, bill length and COL4A5 variation were associated with usage of feeders, suggesting that longer bills may have evolved in the United Kingdom as a response to supplementary feeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-368
Issue number6361
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2017


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