Continent-wide genomic signatures of adaptation to urbanisation in a songbird across Europe

Pablo Salmón*, Arne Jacobs, Dag Ahrén, Clotilde Biard, Niels J Dingemanse, Davide M Dominoni, Barbara Helm, Max Lundberg, Juan Carlos Senar, Philipp Sprau, Marcel E Visser, Caroline Isaksson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Urbanisation is increasing worldwide, and there is now ample evidence of phenotypic changes in wild organisms in response to this novel environment. Yet, the genetic changes and genomic architecture underlying these adaptations are poorly understood. Here, we genotype 192 great tits (Parus major) from nine European cities, each paired with an adjacent rural site, to address this major knowledge gap in our understanding of wildlife urban adaptation. We find that a combination of polygenic allele frequency shifts and recurrent selective sweeps are associated with the adaptation of great tits to urban environments. While haplotypes under selection are rarely shared across urban populations, selective sweeps occur within the same genes, mostly linked to neural function and development. Collectively, we show that urban adaptation in a widespread songbird occurs through unique and shared selective sweeps in a core-set of behaviour-linked genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2983
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20-May-2021


  • Adaptation, Physiological/genetics
  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Cities
  • Europe
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Frequency
  • Passeriformes/physiology
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Urbanization

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