Red deer in the mountains develop due to climate change, a 45-year study has found.
Scientists say they have observed genetic changes in
Not only warmer temperatures encourage deer to give birth earlier in the year, but also mean that the breeding gene has become more common earlier rum deer.
Researchers say that it is rare to observe evolution in such a short period.
Why did this happen?
Previous studies have shown that deer gave birth earlier than the 1
This is partly due to the influence of warmer temperatures on the behavior and physiology of deer.
Researchers now claim that deer that give birth earlier have more calves throughout their lives – meaning they have more reproductive success.
The gene that causes early birth is therefore much more common in the rum deer population over time.
This is an example of natural selection, the theory of evolution, developed by Charles Darwin.
"Evolution in Action"
A team comprising scientists at the University of Edinburgh made the discovery using field records and genetic data collected at Rum for a 45-year period since 1972.
Scientists also participated from the Australian National University and the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge.
Dr Timothy Bonet, of the Australian National University who led the study, said there was "a documented evolution in action".
- Hot deer cool in Highlands loch
- Opposition of reindeer shoots  He added that studies show that natural selection "can help populations adapt to climate warming".
However, Robin Parker of WWF Scotland stated that urgent action was needed to reduce climate change.
He said: "Climate change is here and this report highlights the impact that a changing climate is already having on animals.
“In order to cope with the joint natural and climatic emergencies, it is vital to accelerate our action to reduce emissions.
"In this way, we can protect our valuable wildlife while creating a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for all of us."