Precipitation drives global variation in natural selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Climate change has the potential to affect the ecology and evolution of every species on Earth. Although the ecological consequences of climate change are increasingly well documented, the effects of climate on the key evolutionary process driving adaptation - natural selection - are largely unknown. We report that aspects of precipitation and potential evapotranspiration, along with the North Atlantic Oscillation, predicted variation in selection across plant and animal populations throughout many terrestrial biomes, whereas temperature explained little variation. By showing that selection was influenced by climate variation, our results indicate that climate change may cause widespread alterations in selection regimes, potentially shifting evolutionary trajectories at a global scale.


  • Adam M. Siepielski
  • Michael B. Morrissey
  • Mathieu Buoro
  • Stephanie M. Carlson
  • Christina M. Caruso
  • Sonya M. Clegg
  • Tim Coulson
  • Joseph DiBattista
  • Kiyoko M. Gotanda
  • Clinton D. Francis
  • Joe Hereford
  • Joel G. Kingsolver
  • Kate E. Augustine
  • Loeske E B Kruuk
  • Ryan A. Martin
  • Ben C. Sheldon
  • Nina Sletvold
  • Erik I. Svensson
  • Michael J. Wade
  • Andrew D C MacColl
External organisations
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Oxford
  • Griffith University
  • Curtin University
  • McGill University
  • University of Cambridge
  • California Polytechnic State University
  • University of California, Davis
  • Australian National University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Uppsala University
  • Indiana University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Arkansas
  • University of North Carolina
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-962
Number of pages4
Issue number6328
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 3
Publication categoryResearch