Despite being close to the mainland, the Island of Jersey in front of the French coast was the stage for one of the quickest cases of extreme reduction of body size that we know of. Red deers shrank to about a 5th of their original size (more than 80% reduction) in about 5,000 years after the island became disconnected from the continent at the beginning of the last glaciation. In a paper just published in the July issue of Journal of Biogeography, Diniz-Filho and collaborators show that the fast extreme dwarfism observed in Jersey red deer fossils is a plausible outcome of a combination of well-established ecological and evolutionary processes. We modelled red deer body size evolution based on realistic assumptions of different aspects of their life history (such as polygamous mating mode leading to low levels of inbreeding) and high immigration rates, which together with high mutational variance and high phenotypic plasticity in a wide adaptive landscape lead to body size evolution trends similar to the observed in the fossil record.
About The Author
I am a biogeographer with broad interests in macroecology, community ecology, island biogeography, insect ecology, evolution, and biodiversity research. My main research aim is to determine why biodiversity – and in particular community structure – is geographically distributed the way it is, and to identify the processes that domain the spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological assemblages. I work as Scientific Researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Natural History Museum in Madrid (MNCN), a research institute of the Spanish Scientific Council (CSIC). I am also External Professor at the Departamento de Ecologia of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) in Brazil, and Associate Researcher of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal.
I am a biogeographer and community ecologist, working as scientific researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC).
I am also external professor of the Postgraduate Course on Ecology and Evolution of the Universidade Federal de Goiás, scientific collaborator of cE3c – Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes of the Universidade de Lisboa, and member of eBryo – Research Group on Experimental Bryology.