Detecting microevolutionary responses to natural selection by observing temporal changes in individual breeding values is challenging. Our Statistician, Bilal Ashraf has recently been involved in producing this interesting paper.
In this research work, we have demonstrated a genomic approach to studying microevolutionary trends that should be robust and applicable to other systems. We show that genomic and pedigree-derived estimated breeding values yield similar results, and where they do differ, known problems with pedigree-based methods are a plausible explanation. In the case of Soay sheep (Ovis aries), there is convincing evidence that breeding values for adult weight have been increasing by around 0.01 kg per year over a period of more than 30 years, and that the trend has probably been driven by a response to selection for larger size rather than genetic drift. The rate of increase in breeding values has remained constant both during and after a period when phenotypic values were declining due to environmental or demographic effects.
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