Phenotypic selection occurs when individuals with certain characteristics produce more surviving offspring than individuals with other characteristics. Although selection is regarded as the chief engine of evolutionary change, scientists have only recently begun to measure its action in the wild. These studies raise numerous questions: How strong is selection, and do different types of traits experience different patterns of selection? Is selection on traits that affect mating success as strong as selection on traits that affect survival? Does selection tend to favor larger body size, and, if so, what are its consequences? We explore these questions and discuss the pitfalls and future prospects of measuring selection in natural populations.
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Vol. 57 • No. 7