Evolutionary lag—the difference between mean and optimal phenotype in the current environment—is of keen interest in light of rapid environmental change. Many ecologically important organisms have life histories that include stage structure and both sexual and clonal reproduction, yet how stage structure and clonality interplay to govern a population’s rate of evolution and evolutionary lag is unknown. Effects of clonal reproduction on mean phenotype partition into two portions: one that is phenotype dependent, and another that is genotype dependent. This partitioning is governed by the association between the nonadditive genetic plus random environmental component of phenotype of clonal offspring and their parents. While clonality slows phenotypic evolution toward an optimum, it can dramatically increase population survival after a sudden step change in optimal phenotype. Increased adult survival slows phenotypic evolution but facilitates population survival after a step change; this positive effect can, however, be lost given survival-fecundity trade-offs. Simulations indicate that the benefits of increased clonality under environmental change greatly depend on the nature of that change: increasing population persistence under a step change while decreasing population persistence under a continuous linear change requiring de novo variation. The impact of clonality on the probability of persistence for species in a changing world is thus inexorably linked to the temporal texture of the change they experience.
Maria E. Orive, Michael Barfield, Carlos Fernandez, and Robert D. Holt, "Effects of Clonal Reproduction on Evolutionary Lag and Evolutionary Rescue," The American Naturalist 190, no. 4 (October 2017): 469-490.