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Quantitative Genetic Architecture at Latitudinal Range Boundaries: Reduced Variation but Higher Trait Independence


Paccard, Antoine; Van Buskirk, Josh; Willi, Yvonne (2016). Quantitative Genetic Architecture at Latitudinal Range Boundaries: Reduced Variation but Higher Trait Independence. The American Naturalist, 187(5):667-677.

Abstract

Species distribution limits are hypothesized to be caused by small population size and limited genetic variation in ecologically relevant traits, but earlier studies have not evaluated genetic variation in multivariate phenotypes. We asked whether populations at the latitudinal edges of the distribution have altered quantitative genetic architecture of ecologically relevant traits compared with midlatitude populations. We calculated measures of evolutionary potential in nine Arabidopsis lyrata populations spanning the latitudinal range of the species in eastern and midwestern North America. Environments at the latitudinal extremes have reduced water availability, and therefore plants were assessed under wet and dry treatments. We estimated genetic variance-covariance (G-) matrices for 10 traits related to size, development, and water balance. Populations at southern and northern distribution edges had reduced levels of genetic variation across traits, but their G-matrices were more spherical; G-matrix orientation was unrelated to latitude. As a consequence, the predicted short-term response to selection was at least as strong in edge populations as in central populations. These results are consistent with genetic drift eroding variation and reducing the effectiveness of correlational selection at distribution margins. We conclude that genetic variation of isolated traits poorly predicts the capacity to evolve in response to multivariate selection and that the response to selection may frequently be greater than expected at species distribution margins because of genetic drift.

Abstract

Species distribution limits are hypothesized to be caused by small population size and limited genetic variation in ecologically relevant traits, but earlier studies have not evaluated genetic variation in multivariate phenotypes. We asked whether populations at the latitudinal edges of the distribution have altered quantitative genetic architecture of ecologically relevant traits compared with midlatitude populations. We calculated measures of evolutionary potential in nine Arabidopsis lyrata populations spanning the latitudinal range of the species in eastern and midwestern North America. Environments at the latitudinal extremes have reduced water availability, and therefore plants were assessed under wet and dry treatments. We estimated genetic variance-covariance (G-) matrices for 10 traits related to size, development, and water balance. Populations at southern and northern distribution edges had reduced levels of genetic variation across traits, but their G-matrices were more spherical; G-matrix orientation was unrelated to latitude. As a consequence, the predicted short-term response to selection was at least as strong in edge populations as in central populations. These results are consistent with genetic drift eroding variation and reducing the effectiveness of correlational selection at distribution margins. We conclude that genetic variation of isolated traits poorly predicts the capacity to evolve in response to multivariate selection and that the response to selection may frequently be greater than expected at species distribution margins because of genetic drift.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:05 Jul 2016 12:29
Last Modified:01 Jun 2017 00:00
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/685643

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