Predicting evolutionary responses to selection on polyandry in the wild: additive genetic covariances with female extra-pair reproduction



The evolutionary forces that underlie polyandry, including extra-pair reproduction (EPR) by socially monogamous females, remain unclear. Selection on EPR and resulting evolution have rarely been explicitly estimated or predicted in wild populations, and evolutionary predictions are vulnerable to bias due to environmental covariances and correlated selection through unmeasured traits. However, evolutionary responses to (correlated) selection on any trait can be directly predicted as additive genetic covariances (covA) with appropriate components of relative fitness. I used comprehensive life-history, paternity and pedigree data from song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) to estimate covA between a female’s liability to produce extra-pair offspring and two specific fitness components: relative annual reproductive success (ARS) and survival to recruitment. All three traits showed non-zero additive genetic variance. Estimates of covA were positive, predicting evolution towards increased EPR, but 95% credible intervals overlapped zero. There was therefore no conclusive prediction of evolutionary change in EPR due to (correlated) selection through female ARS or recruitment. Negative environmental covariance between EPR and ARS would have impeded evolutionary prediction from phenotypic selection differentials. These analyses demonstrate an explicit quantitative genetic approach to predicting evolutionary responses to components of (correlated) selection on EPR that should be unbiased by environmental covariances and unmeasured traits.

Data type

Dryad Dataset
Date made available1 Jan 2012

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