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Typically, phenotypic trends observed in populations are compared with evolutionary predictions based on selection and heritability estimates, for example, using the breeder's equation (10, 11).However, selection measured at the phenotypic level does not necessarily imply a causal relationship between the trait and fitness (12, 13) and, as a consequence, such predictions will often be inappropriate in the case of natural populations (14).
This also means that the accuracy of forecasts, for instance those pertaining to demography or epidemiology, and on which public policies may rely, could well depend on our knowledge of contemporary evolution.
However, identifying which traits are evolving in which population is technically difficult.
This likely applies to humans as well because () a number of these traits show heritable genetic variation (4–7), attesting the potential for a microevolutionary response to selection.
This evolutionary potential of modern humans has major implications.
One could similarly argue that not much in evolution makes sense without recourse to ecological concepts: understanding diversity — from microbial adaptations to species assemblages — requires insights from both ecological and evolutionary disciplines.
Nowadays, technological developments from other fields allow us to address unprecedented ecological and evolutionary questions of astonishing detail, impressive breadth and compelling inference.Moreover, the genetic trend was higher than expected under the effect of random genetic drift alone.Our results show that microevolution can be detectable over relatively few generations in humans and underscore the need for studies of human demography and reproductive ecology to consider the role of evolutionary processes.Darwinian evolution is often perceived as a slow process.However, there is growing awareness that microevolution, defined as a genetic change from one generation to the next in response to natural selection, can lead to changes in the phenotypes (observable characters) of organisms over just a few years or decades (1, 2).This multidisciplinary open-access journal is at the forefront of disseminating and communicating scientific knowledge and impactful discoveries to researchers, academics and the public worldwide.Eminent biologist and theist Theodosius Dobzhansky’s astute observation that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” has arguably even broader relevance now than when it was first penned in The American Biology Teacher in 1973.First, it signifies that we should consider the role of evolutionary processes that might underlie any observed trends in phenotypes.Second, it may produce eco-evolutionary feedbacks modifying the dynamics of modern populations (2, 8).As reported for other such societies, natural selection favored an earlier age at first reproduction (AFR) among women.AFR was also highly heritable and genetically correlated to fitness, predicting a microevolutionary change toward earlier reproduction.