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How much do genetic covariances alter the rate of adaptation?
 

Summary: How much do genetic covariances alter the
rate of adaptation?
Aneil F. Agrawal1,* and John R. Stinchcombe1,2
1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and 2
Centre for the Analysis of Genome Evolution and Function,
University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3B2
Genetically correlated traits do not evolve independently, and the covariances between traits affect the rate
at which a population adapts to a specified selection regime. To measure the impact of genetic covariances
on the rate of adaptation, we compare the rate fitness increases given the observed G matrix to the expected
rate if all the covariances in the G matrix are set to zero. Using data from the literature, we estimate the
effect of genetic covariances in real populations. We find no net tendency for covariances to constrain the
rate of adaptation, though the quality and heterogeneity of the data limit the certainty of this result. There
are some examples in which covariances strongly constrain the rate of adaptation but these are balanced by
counter examples in which covariances facilitate the rate of adaptation; in many cases, covariances have
little or no effect. We also discuss how our metric can be used to identify traits or suites of traits whose
genetic covariances to other traits have a particularly large impact on the rate of adaptation.
Keywords: genetic covariances; genetic correlations; constraints; adaptation; phenotypic evolution
1. INTRODUCTION
It is well-known that traits do not evolve independently of

  

Source: Agrawal, Aneil F. - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Stinchcombe, John - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology