Opposite responses to selection and where to find them

David N. Fisher* (Corresponding Author), Jonathan N. Pruitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We generally expect traits to evolve in the same direction as selection. However, many organisms possess traits that appear to be costly for individuals, while plant and animal breeding experiments reveal that selection may lead to no response or even negative responses to selection. We formalize both of these instances as cases of “opposite responses to selection.” Using quantitative genetic models for the response to selection, we outline when opposite responses to selection should be expected. These typically occur when social selection opposes direct selection, when individuals interact with others less related to them than a random member of the population, and if the genetic covariance between direct and indirect effects is negative. We discuss the likelihood of each of these occurring in nature and therefore summarize how frequent opposite responses to selection are likely to be. This links several evolutionary phenomena within a single framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-518
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number5
Early online date18 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Tri‐agency Institutional Programs Secretariat's Canada 150 Chairs Program


  • evolution
  • Hamilton's rule
  • indirect genetic effects
  • multilevel selection
  • relatedness
  • response to selection


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