line decor
line decor

David K. Skelly
Yale University
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
370 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA

Yale FES



Rapid Evolution

Ecology is being transformed by the recognition that ecological and evolutionary timescales are not easily differentiated.  A 1999 review of evolutionary rates by Andrew Hendry and Mike Kinnison (The pace of modern life: measuring rates of contemporary microevolution. Evolution 53:1637-1653) provided the striking conclusion that rates of contemporary evolution are much faster than generally appreciated.  The fact that genotype frequencies can be expected to change as the environment changes is profoundly important to general ecological understanding as well as our approach to dealing with issues such as global climate change.

Most of our research on rapid evolution has focused on the response of wood frogs to changing canopy gradients.  Our work reveals that a number of traits including critical thermal maximum, embryonic development rate, and thermal preference behavior all show variation consistent with local adaptation that occurs on the scale of decades and tens of meters.  These findings offer a startlingly different picture of interactions between organisms and their environment prompting us to rethink, in larger sense, how we should conceive of ecological assemblages.

Hemispherical photo of pond canopy.


Developing wood frog (Rana sylvatica) embryo.

Freidenburg, L. K., and D. K. Skelly. 2004. Microgeographical variation in thermal preference by an amphibian. Ecology Letters 7:369-373.  Link

Skelly, D. K. 2004. Microgeographic countergradient variation in the wood frog, Rana sylvatica. Evolution 58: 160-165.  Link

Skelly, D. K. and L. K. Freidenburg. 2000. Effects of beaver on the thermal biology of an amphibian. Ecology Letters 3:483-486.  Link

Skelly, D. K., L. N. Joseph, H. P. Possingham, L. K. Freidenburg, T. J. Farrugia, M. T. Kinnison, and A. P. Hendry. 2007. Evolutionary responses to climate change. Conservation Biology 21:1353-1355.  Link

Urban, M. C., B. L. Phillips, D. K. Skelly, and R. Shine. 2007. The cane toad's (Bufo marinus) increasing ability to invade Australia is revealed by a dynamically updated range model. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 274:1413-1419.  Link  Faculty of 1000 Review

Urban, M. C. and D. K. Skelly. 2006. Evolving metacommunities: Toward an evolutionary perspective on metacommunities (Concepts & Synthesis). Ecology 87:1616-1626.  Link