To overcome these problems, recent studies of wild birds and mammals have tested for microevolution by directly measuring changes in breeding values (16–22; see ref. The breeding value (BV) of an individual is the additive effect of his/her genes on a trait value relative to the mean phenotype in the population, in other words the heritable variation that parents transmit to their offspring (11).
In quantitative genetic (QG) notation, the phenotypic measurement can thus be written as is a residual term that may include environmental and nonadditive genetic effects and measurement error.
First, it signifies that we should consider the role of evolutionary processes that might underlie any observed trends in phenotypes.
Second, it may produce eco-evolutionary feedbacks modifying the dynamics of modern populations (2, 8).
In agreement with this prediction, AFR declined from about 26–22 y over a 140-y period.
Crucially, we uncovered a substantial change in the breeding values for this trait, indicating that the change in AFR largely occurred at the genetic level.
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This likely applies to humans as well because () a number of these traits show heritable genetic variation (4–7), attesting the potential for a microevolutionary response to selection.
This evolutionary potential of modern humans has major implications.