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By the Robertson–Price identity, the change in a quantitative trait owing to selection, is equal to the trait's covariance with relative fitness. In this study, we applied the identity to long-term data on superb fairy-wrens Malurus cyaneus, to estimate phenotypic and genetic change owing to juvenile viability selection. Mortality in the four-week period between fledging and independence was 40%, and heavier nestlings were more likely to survive, but why? There was additive genetic variance for both nestling mass and survival, and a positive phenotypic covariance between the traits, but no evidence of additive genetic covariance. Comparing standardized gradients, the phenotypic selection gradient was positive, βP = 0.108 (0.036, 0.187 95% CI), whereas the genetic gradient was not different from zero, βA = −0.025 (−0.19, 0.107 95% CI). This suggests that factors other than nestling mass were the cause of variation in survival. In particular, there were temporal correlations between mass and survival both within and between years. We suggest that use of the Price equation to describe cross-generational change in the wild may be challenging, but a more modest aim of estimating its first term, the Robertson–Price identity, to assess within-generation change can provide valuable insights into the processes shaping phenotypic diversity in natural populations.
|Journal||Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences|
|Early online date||9 Mar 2020|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Apr 2020|
NERC DTP: U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (Grant NE/L002558/1) University of Edinburgh's E3 Doctoral Training Partnership
1/10/14 → 31/03/18
Project: Other (Non-Funded/Miscellaneous)