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Eco-evolutionary dynamics in a contemporary human population.

ABSTRACT

Recent studies of the joint dynamics of ecological and evolutionary processes show that changes in genotype or phenotype distributions can affect population, community and ecosystem processes. Such eco-evolutionary dynamics are likely to occur in modern humans and may influence population dynamics. Here, we study contributions to population growth from detailed genealogical records of a contemporary human population. We show that evolutionary changes in women's age at first reproduction can affect population growth: 15.9% of variation in individual contribution to population growth over 108 years is explained by mean age at first reproduction and at least one-third of this variation (6.1%) is attributed to the genetic basis of this trait, which showed an evolutionary response to selection during the period studied. Our study suggests that eco-evolutionary processes have modulated the growth of contemporary human populations.