Common garden experiments to study local adaptation need to account for population structure

Pierre de Villemereuil, Oscar E. Gaggiotti, Jérôme Goudet

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


1. Common garden experiments are precious to study adaptive phenomenon and adaptive potential, in that they allow to study local adaptation without the confounding effect of phenotypic plasticity. The QSTFST comparison framework, comparing genetic differentiation at the phenotypic and molecular level, is the usual way to test and measure whether local adaptation influences phenotypic divergence between populations.
2. Here, we highlight that the assumptions behind the expected equality QST = FST under neutrality correspond to a very simple model of population genetics. While the equality might, on average, be robust to violation of such assumptions, more complex population structure can generate strong evolutionary noise.
3. Synthesis. We highlight recent methodological developments aimed at overcoming this issue and at providing a more general framework to detect local adaptation, using less restrictive assumptions. We invite empiricists to look into these methods and theorists to continue developing even more general methods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ecology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date12 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2020


  • Common garden
  • Local adaptation
  • Phenotypic divergence
  • Population genetics
  • Population structure
  • QST − FST comparison
  • Quantitative genetics


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