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Encyclopedia of Ecology, 2018, pp. 1-5
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. While adaptations to local environments are well recognized, their actual influence on the dynamics of organisms (e.g., demography of mortality, growth, and reproduction) at a population level are less studied. We discuss some of the ways in which evolutionary adaptation can occur. We then review some of the evidence that morphological, behavioral, life-history, and physiological adaptations can affect populations. We emphasize the fact that adaptations and adaptive changes can be both a cause and consequence of observed population dynamics. Individual responses to the environment integrate to affect dynamics of populations but may also indicate how well the individual is adapted. We also note how adaptations at larger scales (e.g., clinal differences in energy budgets across latitudes) affect population dynamics and may act as a buffer for species against recent human-caused climate change.
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