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Fire-driven animal evolution in the Pyrocene

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Fire regimes are a major agent of evolution in terrestrial animals. Changing fire regimes and the capacity for rapid evolution in wild animal populations suggests the potential for rapid, fire-driven adaptive animal evolution in the Pyrocene. Fire drives multiple modes of evolutionary change, including stabilizing, directional, disruptive, and fluctuating selection, and can strongly influence gene flow and genetic drift. Ongoing and future research in fire-driven animal evolution will benefit from further development of generalizable hypotheses, studies conducted in highly responsive taxa, and linking fire-adapted phenotypes to their underlying genetic basis. A better understanding of evolutionary responses to fire has the potential to positively influence conservation strategies that embrace evolutionary resilience to fire in the Pyrocene.

Gavin M. Jones, Joshua F. Goldberg, Taylor M. Wilcox, Lauren B. Buckley, Catherine L. Parr, Ethan B. Linck, Emily D. Fountain, Michael K. Schwartz

Jones, G. M., Goldberg, J. F., Wilcox, T. M., Buckley, L. B., Parr, C. L., Linck, E. B., Fountain, E. D., & Schwartz, M. K. (2023). Fire-driven animal evolution in the pyrocene. 50 Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 38(11), 1072–1084.

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