Can migratory traits evolve? - Insights from a long-term study of wild birds
Late lunch talk by Maja Tarka
In migratory species, the timing of annual activities such as breeding, moulting and migration are important for reproductive success and survival. Thus, in the face of a changing environment, it is crucial to be able to adjust the timing accordingly. However, little is known about the genetic basis and hence evolutionary potential of many traits involved in these time-decisive activities. I have studied selection, heritability and genetic architecture of migratory traits, such as wing length and spring arrival, in a natural population of great reed warblers. My findings show potential for adaptation of these traits to a changing environment in some aspects, but also unravel evolutionary constraints and sexual conflicts that might hinder the evolutionary process.