Direct and indirect genetic and fine-scale location effects on breeding date in song sparrows

Ryan R. Germain, Matthew E. Wolak, Peter Arcese, Sylvain Losdat, Jane M. Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Quantifying direct and indirect genetic effects of interacting females and males on variation in jointly expressed life-history traits is central to predicting microevolutionary dynamics. However, accurately estimating sex-specific additive genetic variances in such traits remains difficult in wild populations, especially if related individuals inhabit similar fine-scale environments.

Breeding date is a key life-history trait that responds to environmental phenology and mediates individual and population responses to environmental change. However, no studies have estimated female (direct) and male (indirect) additive genetic and inbreeding effects on breeding date, and estimated the cross-sex genetic correlation, while simultaneously accounting for fine-scale environmental effects of breeding locations, impeding prediction of microevolutionary dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1613-1624
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number6
Early online date30 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

Bibliographical note


We thank the Tsawout and Tseycum First Nations for generously allowing us continuous access to Mandarte Island, Rebecca Sardell and Pirmin Nietlisbach for paternity assignments, Alastair Wilson and Jarrod Hadfield for helpful discussions, Ben Sheldon and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the European Research Council for funding.


  • associative genetic effects
  • breeding habitat
  • emergent trait
  • lay date
  • nest location
  • quantitative genetics
  • reproduction
  • sexual conflict


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