Genetic and phenotypic associations in morphological traits: a long term study of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus

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Abstract

We present estimates of standardized selection (directional and quadratic) differentials via reproductive success on eight morphological traits in a newly founded long-term study population of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus in Sweden. In order to predict the evolutionary response to selection in these traits we present estimates of heritabilities (h(2)), phenotypic (r(P)) and genetic (r(A)) correlations among the same traits. We also examined the extent of parental effects in the expression of the phenotypic traits. Overall, the population is subject to low levels of directional selection and higher levels of stabilizing selection. This makes us predict that the population is changing very little if anything, even though h(2) in many cases are considerable. Midparent-midoffspring h(2) ranged from 0.14 and 0.94 (mean 0.58) and were significant for seven of eight traits. We found indications of positive maternal effects in tarsus length. Phenotypic correlations between traits ranged from 0.02 to 0.43 (mean 0.15) and showed generally much lower values than the corresponding genetic correlations that ranged between 0.08 and 1.04 (mean 0.46). Overall, the correlation between r(P) and r(A) was significant, although moderate, but they tended to differ in magnitude, possibly due to overestimation of additive covariance between traits.

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  • Biological Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-72
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Volume38
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes