Environmental change has altered the phenology, morphological traits and population dynamics of many species1, 2. However, the links underlying these joint responses remain largely unknown owing to a paucity of long-term data and the lack of an appropriate analytical framework3. Here we investigate the link between phenotypic and demographic responses to environmental change using a new methodology and a long-term (1976–2008) data set from a hibernating mammal (the yellow-bellied marmot) inhabiting a dynamic subalpine habitat. We demonstrate how earlier emergence from hibernation and earlier weaning of young has led to a longer growing season and larger body masses before hibernation. The resulting shift in both the phenotype and the relationship between phenotype and fitness components led to a decline in adult mortality, which in turn triggered an abrupt increase in population size in recent years. Direct and trait-mediated effects of environmental change made comparable contributions to the observed marked increase in population growth. Our results help explain how a shift in phenology can cause simultaneous phenotypic and demographic changes, and highlight the need for a theory integrating ecological and evolutionary dynamics in stochastic environments4, 5.
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- Supplementary Information (559K)
This file contains Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary Figures S1-S8 with legends.