Rapid, habitat-related evolution of land snail colour morphs on reclaimed land
Heredity , Volume 110 p. 247- 252
I made use of the known dates of reclamation (and of afforestations) in the IJsselmeerpolders in The Netherlands to assess evolutionary adaptation in Cepaea nemoralis. At 12 localities (three in each polder), I sampled a total of 4390 adult individuals in paired open and shaded habitats, on average 233m apart, and scored these for genetic shell colour polymorphisms. The results show (highly) significant differentiation at most localities, although the genes involved differed per locality. Overall, though, populations in shaded habitats had evolved towards darker shells than those in adjacent open habitats, whereas a 'Cain & Sheppard' diagram (proportion yellow shells plotted against ‘effectively unbanded’ shells) failed to reveal a clear pattern. This might suggest that thermal selection is more important than visual selection in generating this pattern. Trait differentiation, regardless of whether they were plotted against polder age or habitat age, showed a linear increase of differentiation with time, corresponding to a mean rate of trait evolution of 15–31 kilodarwin. In conclusion, C. nemoralis is capable of rapid and considerable evolutionary differentiation over 1–25 snail generations, though equilibrium may be reached only at longer time scales.